I wish to announce that I will be issuing Writs for the 2020 election of the Bougainville House of Representatives on Friday, 27 March 2020, consistent with Section 107 of the Bougainville Constitution; this is subject to any court injunction that may be pending in court.
The election will take place in accordance with the election schedule attached.
I am conscious that members of the public will be aware that the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Executive Council have filed a Special Supreme Court Reference challenging the validity of Sections 89(2) and 91(4)(f) of the Bougainville Constitution.
The Reference also seeks a ruling as to whether the provisions of Section 55(5)(b) regarding the lawful status of former-combatant members of the House impacted on the outcome of a vote to amend Sections 89(2) and 91(4)(f) on 21st February 2020.
In my capacity as Speaker of the House, I have been listed as a Defendant to these proceedings.
In view of this, I sought legal advice regarding my authority to set the dates for the election.
The advice that I have received confirms that a filing of a Special Reference to the Supreme Court does not prevent the election of the Bougainville House of Representatives from taking place.
The advice that I have received also confirms, that for the purpose of the election, that the seats reserved for former combatant members under Section 55(5)(b) of the Bougainville Constitution should be included in the issuing of the writs. This is because until such time as a final decision on the outcome of the referendum is made by the National Parliament under Section 342 of the National Constitution, the referendum process has not concluded.
A Special Supreme Court Reference also does not override the Constitutional authority of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner to conduct the election, nor my obligation as Speaker to issue the writs.
In light of this, as Speaker of the House of Representatives I consider it appropriate that the election proceed, consistent with the Constitution and principles of democratic law.
I therefore intend to uphold my obligations under the Constitution, and it is now for the Bougainville Electoral Commission to ensure that the election is free and fair.
Once the election has taken place, and the writs have been returned, I will set the date for the first sitting of the new Parliament.
Simon G Pentanu, MHR
SPEAKER, Bougainville House of Representatives
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