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PNG Prime Minister Addresses Bougainville Independence Issue

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape stated that the main challenge with Bougainville's push for independence is how to fully comply with the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Constitution. He made these remarks during a heated debate in Parliament on Tuesday about Bougainville's political future.

Marape emphasized that any decision on Bougainville's independence would be made by Parliament in accordance with the Constitution. He urged both Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans to understand each other's perspectives to find common ground for the future.

 PNG Prime Minister Addresses Bougainville Independence Issue

He reminded Parliament that the PNG Constitution defines the country's current sovereignty. Marape highlighted that the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement includes provisions for Parliament to ratify the results of the Bougainville Referendum held in 2019, where 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans voted for independence.

"This is the issue we are grappling with," Marape said. "There is nothing to fear about bringing the results of the Bougainville referendum to Parliament." He noted that each Member of Parliament would have the opportunity to express their views when the issue is put to a vote, emphasizing that such a vote is a constitutional matter.

Marape expressed concern that other provinces with autonomy might also seek independence, stating, "Bougainville is a pacesetter for our country. We must ring-fence the rest of the country." He also mentioned that there are no time limitations on deciding Bougainville's independence, assuring that Parliament will make a decision in due course.

Additionally, Marape said that Bougainville and PNG have agreed to engage a mediator to determine the majority required in Parliament to approve Bougainville's independence.

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