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Bougainville vote a security issue for the country: PNG PM O'Neill

Papua New GUinea Parliament will have to endorse the Bougainville referendum whatever the outcome, says  Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Responding to questions by Nuku MP Joe Sungi, O’Neill said the Government had always supported the Autonomous Region of Bougainville through infrastructure development.

“We have done more for Bougainville and the report will be tabled in Parliament,” O’Neill said.

“I’ve instructed the Minister for Bougainville Affairs to present a ministerial statement so that PNG is aware of what the situation is on the ground in Bougainville.

“The referendum will take place in 2019 and there is a serious question of the future stability of the country in itself.

“I’ve stated publicly that we will all have to respect the peace agreement that we signed some 20 years ago. That is the basis which provides for the referendum.

“There is no doubt that our government in the last term and this term has done more for Bougainville than any other government in the past.”

O’Neill said there were differences of opinion because people wished for different outcomes of the referendum.

“Whether Bougainville will acquire independence or whether they are going to vote for independence or greater autonomy has not been agreed yet. And it is not for ABG alone to set that question. It has to be set jointly,” PM O’Neill said.

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