New Bougainville vice-president faces BFM criticism over mining policy

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

New ABG Vice-President Masono being sworn in by Chief Magistrate Bruce Tasikul while Chief Secretary to ABG Joseph Nobetau looks on. Image: Bougainville News

Raymond Masono has been appointed new Vice-President of Bougainville and has immediately faced criticism from the Bougainville Freedom Movement.

Bougainville News reported Masono was from the Carteret Islands and is a first term MP in the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Member for the Atolls Constituency and Minister for Public Service.

Prior to his entry into politics, Masono had a distinguished career in the Bougainville Public Service and held several senior positions, including Acting Chief Administrator, Deputy Chief Administrator Policy and Director for Panguna Negotiations.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Atolls people for the President’s confidence in appointing me as his new Vice-President,” Masono said at the swearing in.

“I accept this appointment with great humility, for me personally it is a great honour to serve as the Vice-President of one of the founding fathers of this nation and I want to assure the President and the people of Bougainville of my undivided loyalty and continued support to the President and ABG,” Masono said.

However, the Bougainville Freedom Movement (BFM) put out a statement condemning the appointment as not helping Bougainville’s independence from mining companies. It said:

“The young and easily influenced [former] Vice-President Patrick Nisira made it clear in March 2016  that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) knew that the decision on the future of the mining moratorium on Bougainville was a major concern and ‘that there should be wide public debate on the issues involved’.

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‘Don’t have the funds’
“This was reiterated again, as stated by Patrick Nisira in his public leture on 28 April 2016 in Canberra.

“Yet in his next breath, Patrick Nisira advised: “But we don’t have the funds necessary for an extensive public awareness and consultation programme.”

“Now, his replacement, Raymond Masono, Director of the Office of Panguna Negotiations, Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), who originates from the Atolls, gave a lecture at  the University of Queensland’s “Institute for Sustainable Mining” on 16 December 2014.

“Under the influence of the University of Queensland’s “Institute for Sustainable Mining”, Mr Raymond Masono made it quite clear that, “Alternative Benefit Sharing Modality for a Redeveloped Panguna Mine in Bougainville, PNG”.

“Benefits from a redeveloped Panguna mine must contribute to the overall social and economic development of the all Bougainvillians, not just the mine affected landowners.

“This requires the design and implementation of a benefit sharing modality that ensures everyone shares in the nation’s wealth. The Office of Panguna Mine Negotiations has been established to coordinate the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and Panguna mine affected Landowners preparations to negotiate the possible reopening of Panguna Mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

“President Momis, it certainly would be better that you represent your people rather than mining companies don’t you think?, asked the BFM.”

Patrick Nisira will remain as the Member of the Halia constituency until he formally resigns from the Bougainville House of Representatives to contest this year’s general election.

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