Bougainville’s self-determination aspiration is no longer an isolated issue but has become an issue of national interest that concerns the whole of Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister James Marape made this statement during the Joint Post Referendum Consultations with the ABG in Kokopo today.
Mr Marape said that the National Government under his leadership as Prime Minister respected the results of Bougainville’s referendum for independence in 2019.
“I assure President Toroama and the people of Bougainville that the overwhelming results of the referendum will not be diluted and my government will respect this outcome,” Mr Marape said.
“The joint consultations must find a process that clearly indicate a way forward for the people of Bougainville as well as the rest of the country,” Mr Marape said.
He added that it was critically important to note the guiding principles of the Bougainville Peace Agreement to ensure both government implement it in its entirety.
The Prime Minister was not explicit on the National Government’s position on Bougainville seceding from the rest of Papua New Guinea.
He only expressed concerns on how Bougainville’s hopes to become independent might have serious repercussions with the state of union in PNG.
He also indicated that this could pave way for other resource rich provinces to resort to creating instability and seek independence from the rest of the country.
“Bougainvilleans and the rest of the country must come to understand that we are the most diverse country on earth and my responsibility is to preserve the union of the country,” he said.
However Prime Minister Marape was quick to point out that Bougainville is a special case in PNG owing to the historic context of the Bougainville Crisis and calls for independence for Bougainville that predates the independence of PNG.
Prime Minister Marape also reassured the Bougainville leadership at the consultations that if National Parliament fails to ratify the referendum results, the motion would be withdrawn and resubmitted after consultations with the ABG again.
Mr Marape also acknowledged President Toroama’s wish for independence to be granted to Bougainville in June 2025.
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