Bougainville. Papua New Guinea press review

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARB) will soon host the largest and most open presidential race in its history.
Sam Maiha, who is the former director of the PNG weather service, is one of 25 candidates for Bougainville’s presidency. According to Mr. Maiha, Bougainville could be one of the great tourist destinations. Moreover, in his opinion, the government has been mismanaged, and he has the skills to turn Bougainville around. Mr. Maiha is focussed on Bougainville as an independent state, unencumbered by mining operations, but instead depending on agriculture and tourism. Mr. Maiha claimed many of the candidates are dependent on financial support from foreign, prospective, investors, but he is reliant on local backing. [1]

The outgoing ARB President John Momis administration has been trying to get the mine – which was at the heart of the civil war in the 1990s – reopened, to sustain the economy of an independent Bougainville. According to another candidate for ARB President Sione Paasia says the Bougainville government has been too distracted by talk of re-opening the Panguna mine. According to Mr. Paasia, Bougainville needs to focus on other means of economic activity, because most Bougainville people aren’t ready for that. Sione Paasia is aviation consultant engineer, who hails from the Mortlock Islands, which are located far to the northeast of the Bougainville mainland. The candidate is focused on economic development – attracting investment in manufacturing, developing cocoa production and making better use of the tuna resource. According to Mr. Paasia, PNG accounts for about 15 percent of tuna throughout the world, which is about US$4-to-US$5 billion. Moreover, Sione Paasia said much of that tuna resource is in Bougainville waters.

Meanwhile, 18 of 25 candidates gathered in Arawa to present themselves and their plans to the public. The event is the brainchild of Robert Anesia and his volunteer group ‘Bougainville Yumi Wan’ [Bougainville we are one]. The event was chaired by National MP for Central Bougainville Sam Akoitai, who urged the participants candidates to support whoever wins and work with that person for the betterment of the Bougainville people. [2-4]

However, Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Puka Temu says developing the Bougainville economy during the consultation process is important to sustain its political future, and also notes that Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape is passionate to grow the economy of Bougainville. Bougainville Affairs Minister welcomed the United Nations Development Programme assistance in planning an economic summit in Bougainville. It will be held after ARB election.

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