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Bougainville independence is part of agreement, says Momis

Section two of the Bougainville Peace Agreement cites explicitly the option of independence for Bougainville which the people have to decide.

On the same token it also provides the option not to.

Bougainville President John Momis said this when refuting claims by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who said in New Ireland a week ago that independence was not part of the peace agreement.

Momis made the clarification in response also to a proposed visit by former Prime Ministers Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti and Sir Rabbie Namaliu to plead for Bougianville to remain united with PNG.

“I welcome recent statements on a proposed unity visit to Bougainville by former Prime Ministers, initiated in the spirit of enhancing peace and unity in Bougainville,” Momis said.

“But I would be remiss if I did not place on record the facts as they relate to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and whilst talk of unity and enhancing peace should not, and must not, come at the expense of the mutual obligations that the Bougainville Peace Agreement creates.”

Momis said it is a fact that Bougainville has been more sinned against, than sinned, since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed.

He said the Agreement contains very clear provisions in relation to what must happen to ensure long term peace and stability which successive Governments have failed to uphold.

Momis cited the specific issue of funding to support for restoration and development under Section 160 of the Agreement which provides a clear basis for the calculation of the annual restoration and development grant.

He said through years of economic negligence has consistently undermined the peace process, placing Bougainville in an almost impossible position with respect to rebuilding from the conflict.

“It has, in many ways, sabotaged the peace process, whether intentional or not,” Momis said.

“Second the Prime Minister is wrong to state that Independence is not guaranteed by the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“Section 2 of the Agreement states, without ambiguity, that separate independence for Bougainville must be one of the options put to the people.

“Of course, the people can choose to remain a part of PNG with continued autonomy, but independence must be an option. For the Prime Minister to question this does not serve to create an environment conducive to peace; rather, it creates confusion and uncertainty for the people of Bougainville.”

Momis said that it is in that context he welcomed the proposed unity visit, but it must be conducted from a standpoint of respect and honesty and any visit must acknowledge the wrongs of the past, and it must present honestly the facts and the options that are open to the people of Bougainville.

“This must include the fact that separate independence for Bougainville is an option,” he said.

“Now is the time for the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the government of PNG to draw a line and commit to the process of peace once and for all and if the proposed visit provides the platform on which that can be achieved, then it is welcomed but this must not come at the expense of holding the meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body, as agreed, in the coming month in Bougainville.

“In the meantime, I continue to call on the United Nations and our political partners to hold both parties to account as the clock are ticking and the people are watching.

“It is incumbent upon all of us, Bougainvilleans, Papua New Guineans and the international community alike, to ensure that the vision of peace so clearly articulated in the Bougainville Peace Agreement is achieved,” he said.


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