The Referendum Writ will be handed over by the Governor General of Papua New Guinea to the Chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, Hon Bertie Ahern this Friday 27 September.
This significant event also marks the end of the enrolment period and formalizes the polling dates which will take place from 23 November to 7 December this year.
Tomorrow, Mr ahern will be briefing the Bougainville House of Representatives in Buka.
“It’s a great honour, and a great accomplishment of Bougainville and both governments to reach this step, the eve of the Bougainville referendum,” Mr Ahern said.
“I thank the 202,000-odd people of Bougainville who have got themselves enrolled. I thank the Ward Recorders and those officials who have tirelessly worked to prepare the roll.”
“We are ready to accept the Writ, and we are ready, through the efforts of many, to conduct the Bougainville referendum to an international standard of free and fair.”
Following the issue of writ in Port Moresby on Friday 27 September, a public event will be held in Arawa on Monday 30 September to formally present the Writ to the Chief Referendum Officer, who will then pass it to the Referendum Returning Officer, John Sisiesi.
The BRC will also be conducting recruitment and training of temporary polling and counting officials, and finalizing applications for observers, scrutineers and media.
“The next steps are about the credibility and quality of the process,” Mr Ahern said. “Are our officials ready to make polling and counting professional, transparent and impartial? Do people understand the process and are they informed of the choices before them. That is our large task, and it is, as it always has been, a team effort.”
The BRC will return the Writ to the Governor-General on or before 20 December with the following information:
- Number of votes for greater autonomy
- Number of votes for independence
- Number of informal ballot papers
“We will not be declaring a winner or a loser. There is no voter threshold to reach,” Mr Ahern said.
“The process will then begin of the two governments consulting on the result, with a final decision to be made by the National Parliament.”
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