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Miriori warns PNG not to derail the independence mandate of the people of Bougainville

The former Bougainville rebel leader and international spokesman, Martin Miriori has warned Papua New Guinea not to meddle around and derail the clear referendum vote supporting independence by the people of Bougainville.

Bougainvilleans voted with an overwhelming majority of 98 percent to sever links with the motherland.

Miriori said the stunning result, which was supervised and closely monitored by representatives of the international community observers, including the international media, was crystal clear as it can be and was a world record.

“Once again, it is very important to remind Prime Minister James Marape that Bougainvilleans never voted for the so-called ‘economic independence’ option which was not even on the ballot paper. For the Prime Minister in his speech in Arawa last Friday to suggest this option is not only an absolute nonsense and unreasonable, but is a big slap in the face of Bougainvilleans who clearly voted for independence.

“The agreement was between only two choices - Greater Autonomy or Independence. The ballot paper never mentioned a third option. So why even go into talking about the third option? This is totally absurd and completely nonsense to raise it in the public discussion, said Miriori.

He reiterated that Bougainvilleans want ‘complete political freedom’ and not economic freedom.

“There is no such thing as half way or partial freedom as far as Bougainvilleans are concerned.

“PNG cannot simply use the non-binding clause as an excuse to ignore the wishes of our people, expressed through the ballot box and walk away. This is simply not being honest with our people and could be very dangerous indeed, Miriori warned.

He further warned that PNG cannot also deliberately mislead and deceive the international community because the world is going to be watching closely as to what it does next.

Miriori reminded Port Moresby and PNG leaders the referendum was conducted according to international standards and best practices in good faith, and therefore PNG will face the risk of tarnishing its own international reputation and credibility if they do not respect and honour the will of the people.

“Therefore, the post referendum close consultation and negotiations between PNG and Bougainville must be strictly held within the confines and spirit of the independence vote taken by the people of Bougainville and not anything outside the clear choice of our people. This is crystal clear and there are no ifs or buts in the people’s democratic choice on the issue of independence for Bougainville.

“The win-win situation which the Prime Minister referred to in his speech in Arawa will only come when Bougainville achieves its complete political freedom, which is off course independence, said Miriori.


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