29 May 2018

PNG accused of sidestepping Bougainville referendum issues

6:36 am on 29 May 2018
Arawa, Bougainville

Bougainville is due to vote in a referendum on possible independence in little over a year. Photo: RNZI

The Bougainville South MP in the Papua New Guinea parliament, Timothy Masiu, says the PNG Government is sidestepping key issues as the province prepares for a referendum on possible independence.

Bougainville is to hold the vote in June next year.

Last week in parliament the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill dismissed a question from Mr Masiu - who is the deputy opposition leader - on preparations for the vote, saying it is not about independence.

Mr Masiu said the PNG government had done little to help prepare, yet the vote was just over a year away.

"We feel that the issues, the key issues, are being sidestepped by the government of Papua New Guinea," he said.

"It is making it very, very cumbersome for us, as leaders on Bougainville, on the engagement of the national government to the wishes and aspirations of the people of Bougainville, which is independence.

"That is the key issue."