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Post Referendum preparations progress amidst COVID-19

The ABG Minister for Post Referendum Consultations, Hon. Albert Punghau, has assured the people of Bougainville that the post-referendum dialogue is progressing well despite the COVID-19 situation.

Minister Punghau said since the last Joint Supervisory Body meeting in March this year, the ABG and the National Government has made progress on key JSB resolutions related to the post-referendum.

“While our government is faced with the COVID-19 emergency response, a lot of work is being done in the background by the Department and my Ministry to ensure that we translate our 98 per cent vote for independence and prepare our people and government for the consultation period,” said Punghau.

Minister Punghau says he’s been engaged in weekly consultations with his national counterpart, the National Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Puka Temu, via video conferencing to progress consultations work on both sides. He acknowledged the United Nations for facilitating these teleconferences for both ministers to ensure there is ongoing dialogue and progress for post-referendum preparations.

The JSB resolution on ratification has progressed well with the two offices of the Attorney General for the ABG and National Government currently working together to form an agreed recommendation on the definition of ratification.

Once this definition has been developed and jointly agreed to, it will then be presented to the Joint Ministerial Team.

The Ministerial Preparatory Team is also working on developing the Bougainville independence plan.

“For Bougainville, we have convened the Ministerial Preparatory Team meeting headed by myself as Minister for Post-Referendum. We’ve had two meetings already where we are collectively drafting Bougainville’s independence plan,” he said.

“Apart from these meetings, my Department will also be convening several Bougainville Leaders Consultations Forums across Bougainville to get people’s views on this independence plan before it is presented to parliament.”

These consultation forums are part of the internal process for all-inclusive consultation with the people of Bougainville on its independence package before both governments begin the government-to-government consultations.

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