Bougainville. Papua New Guinea press review

On the 31st of August 2020, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARB) marked the 19th anniversary of Peace Agreement (2001), providing a special autonomous status to Bougainville, with a gradual abolishment of significant self-government powers by the government of Papua New Guinea, as well as a promise to hold a referendum on independence between 2015 and 2020. The Bougainville Government has declared August the 31st a public holiday. The signing of the peace agreement let to the establishment four years later of the first autonomous government and then the independence referendum held in November 2019. That referendum produced overwhelming support for independence from Papua New Guinea. According to the outgoing ARB President John Momis, Independence deal the prime focus for new Government. Polling has been completed in elections for Bougainville’s regional parliament, with results yet to be announced. The counting began. Because it’s expected that new Government’ll be in place by the middle of September, Mr. Momis said the first talks with the PNG government on the independence referendum are set for October. He also added that it was critical that all negotiations were complete and an agreement reached before PNG’s national elections scheduled for 2022. «It will then go to the national parliament for ratification and the signing of a treaty, and as far as the people of Bougainville are concerned that will be the birth, the declaration of the birth of a new nation, » Mr. Momis said.
Despite the holiday, as well as ongoing Bougainville elections process and public restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all essential services such as health and policing are maintaining their normal duties. Last month Bougainville authorities announced about first COVID-19 case in the ARB. Currently, there have been a total of 471 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea, including 234 active cases, 232 recovered cases, and 5 fatal cases. [1]

After six weeks of campaigning and voting just shy of two weeks, the 440 candidates in this year’s Bougainville election are now sitting around waiting for the election results. [2]

However, Bougainville Government has been asked for support in the re-settlement of islanders from the climate change-threatened Carteret Atolls (Kilinailau). For years the Carterets have been confronted by coastal inundation and salt water infiltrating the ground water, prompting the need for local residents to move elsewhere in Bougainville. The non-governmental organizations (NGO) ‘Tulele Peisa’ has been working to resettle the islanders on donated land on the main island of Bougainville. The group’s Ursula Rakova said in recent years the government had been distracted by events like the recent independence referendum and has been of little help. Tulele Peisa was also aiming to get food and agricultural materials to people still on the atolls, but they were frustrated by a lack of appropriate shipping. So far 20 families, 85 people, had moved to Bougainville. According to Ursula Rakova, The Bougainville’s Government has few resources available to undertake programmes – it has long pleaded poverty, blaming the PNG National Government for failing to adequately fund ARB. [3] [1]

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