Bougainville president details necessary steps to independence

Residents hold a Bougainville flag at a polling station during a non-binding independence referendum in Arawa, on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville, 26 November 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Melvin Levongo). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

WELLINGTON, Aug 10, 2021, RNZ. The President of Bougainville says the region’s political aspirations require a holistic approach as it strives to achieve independence from Papua New Guinea, Radio New Zealand reported.

Ishmael Toroama told parliament that he had travelled across Bougainville in the past year to launch the Constituency Independence Readiness Mission Implementation Initiative.

He said Bougainvilleans first need to unite by thinking beyond their segregated mindsets and building positive relationships that can benefit both the people and the government.

And he called for people at all levels to endeavour to help create an industrious Bougainville society.

Toroama said progress depended on building support for the government’s planned course to prepare the country for independence.

Results from a historic non-binding referendum on independence had signalled the need to innovate and do things differently, he said.

The final report on the referendum’s findings was presented to Papua New Guinea in May last year, and showed 97.7 percent of Bougainvillians support independence.

Toroama said foreign aid was one example where the government wanted to create change. Resources from aid now need to be used for economic development, co-ordinated by the newly established Bougainville Strategic Research and Planning Secretariat.

In July Toroama and PNG Prime Minister James Marape held talks around the potential for independence, with both parties agreeing on a timetable that could lead to the transfer of many powers by 2023, and full independence in 2027.

Since those talks, PNG Governor General Sir Bob Dadae aired concerns that PNG could disintegrate if Bougainville became independent.

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