Deal done on Bougainville vote

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis and Prime Minister Peter O'Neill have signed a joint resolution that will pave the way for next year's planned referendum on possible independence.
Deal done on Bougainville vote Deal done on Bougainville vote Deal done on Bougainville vote Deal done on Bougainville vote Deal done on Bougainville vote

John Momis

Staff Reporter

The Post Courier reports the resolution covers a wide range of areas including administration, financial support and the creation of an independent body to oversee the June 15 referendum.
 
The joint supervisory body, or JSB, meeting in Arawa approved National Government funding of $6 million for the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC), and $150,000 from the Autonomous Bougainville Government to be progressively transferred to an agreed trust account.
 
The initial national government contribution of over $366,000 has been transferred to the National Co-ordination Office on Bougainville Affairs and will be available once the trust account becoming operational.
 
The JSB confirmed the appointment of former Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern as chairman of the BRC and the appointment of ABG nominees Patrick Nisira and Ruby Mirinka, while the national government nominees will be appointed this month.
 
The JSB also resolved to accept the progress report on the implementation of the four phased-weapons disposal plan.
 
However, Momis earlier commented that the ABG was frustrated with the lack of support from the national government to prepare for the referendum.
 
"I understand your government has other pressing priorities with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting and the complex current situation in the Highlands," he told Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
 
"I understand too that your budgetary constraints are grave. But we must also remember that the peace agreement ended a terrible conflict. There is a slowly emerging risk of real frustration among Bougainvilleans about the lack of progress, both with the autonomy and with the referendum. The time for action on the referendum is now."
 
The National newspaper reported that Momis told O'Neill and the JSB at a meeting in Arawa on Friday that the budget crisis was extreme.
 
"I realise that the national government faces its own budget crisis. But the lack of funds being received by the ABG is leading to a desperate situation for us," he said.
 
"We simply do not have the money to do anything. We are not even receiving the amount of recurrent grants needed to meet salary costs, and not enough for our public service to do much at all," Momis said.
 

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