16 Apr 2018

Former Irish leader to head key Bougainville body

3:55 pm on 16 April 2018

The Bougainville and Papua New Guinea Governments have chosen former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern to head the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland, in 2007.

Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland, in 2007. Photo: AFP

The role of the commission is to prepare Bougainville for a referendum on independence in June next year.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has been seeking an internationally recognised person to head the body.

President John Momis said at his latest meeting with PNG Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, that they have agreed to appoint Mr Ahern to the role.

"He will be the independent chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission," he said.

"So there has been progress on that. We are now working with the national government to take necessary steps to make it happen. "

Mr Ahern was the Irish prime minister from 1997 to 2008.

His political career ended abruptly when it was revealed he had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret payments.

Mr Ahern never satisfactorily explained the source of the funds but he denied any wrongdoing.

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