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PNG Post-Courier

Bougainville Affairs Minister Manasseh Makiba has described the Post-Courier’s front page story yesterday regarding a meeting between Bougainville and national government leaders as “sensationalised” and without substance.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government (AGB) had warned it might use “other avenues to gain its independence” should the PNG government “continue to be mischievous” in dealing with the Bougainville independence agenda.

Makiba said the report was the work of individuals with vested interests and was designed to derail the progress made so far over the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

PNG's Bougainville Affairs Minister Manasseh Makiba
PNG’s Bougainville Affairs Minister Manasseh Makiba . . . says report is the work of individuals with vested interests trying to derail progress. Image: Post-Courier

He also announced that the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting scheduled for yesterday had been postponed until tomorrow because agendas had not been supplied on time by the joint technical team (JTT) headed by the Chief Secretary and his Bougainvillean counterpart Kearneth Nanei.

“The restoration development grants, Bougainville Copper Ltd shares, and fisheries revenue sharing agreement were matters being dealt with by the joint technical team due to the technical and legal nature of the process,” Makiba said.

“The joint technical team comprises departmental heads and technical professionals from both the national government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government [which] will conduct consultations before jointly drawing up agendas for the JSB to deliberate.”

Makiba said the system currently in place through the joint technical team was very transparent and allowed for constructive discussions from both sides before it got to the political level.

‘Sticky subjects’ resolved
“Any disagreement or issues relating to any sticky subjects are resolved at that committee level,” Makiba said.

“To suggest or imply that the government is bulldozing matters or turning a deaf ear to any issue is an understatement,” Makiba said.

He urged both parties to respect the peace agreement.

The Bougainville warning was sounded by ABG Attorney-General and Independence Implementation Minister Ezekiel Massat just as the ABG delegation headed to Port Moresby for the JSB meeting with the national government.

The Bougainville delegation, led by President Ishmael Toroama, is due to meet with the national government to discuss the ratification process outlined in the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the constitution.

Massat said that there had been events that had happened which Bougainville had not been consulted on by the national government, consequently defeating the purpose of the peace agreement.

He cited the appointment of Police Assistant Commissioner Anthony Wagambie Jr and the current JSB meeting which had been called and changed by the national government without consulting ABG.

Resolution from last JSB
“While the ABG will be participating, it wants to see the two parties set into motion the resolution from the last JSB, for the parties to agree to call in a moderator to try to resolve the impasse over how results from the 2019 Referendum will be tabled and ratified by the National Parliament,” Massat said.

The ABG also demands that a bipartisan committee be established comprising national and Bougainville members to urgently communicate awareness about the Bougainville issue and independence agenda to all members of Parliament before the ratification vote.

Massat said the lack of consultation of the national government might create “suspicion and mistrust” and Bougainville might be forced to pursue other legal means to achieve the “Bougainville people’s dreams of independence” as shown in the overwhelming majority vote in the 2019 referendum.

Republished with permission.

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