13 Apr 2010

Bougainville presidential candidate stresses need for unity across PNG province

5:36 pm on 13 April 2010

A candidate for the presidency of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, Martin Miriori, says he wants to ensure unity ahead of a referendum on possible independence, which is due to be conducted within the next 10 years.

The province will elect its second autonomous government next month.

There are seven contenders for the presidency, including a former woman cabinet minister and diplomat, Madeleine Toroansi, a former governor, John Momis, and the incumbent, James Tanis.

Mr Miriori, who had been a prominent member of the secessionist movement, failed to win the presidency following the sudden death of his brother, Bougainville's first president, Joseph Kabui, in 2008.

He says this time he is stressing the need for dialogue to bring the province together.

"So that we forge true unity, realistic unity amongst the people of Bougainville, so that when we come to referendum at least we are all intact, we are unified, and then the people can make well thought out decisions."