Leaders stuck on question for Bougainville referendum

3:29 pm on 5 September 2018

The Papua New Guinea and Bougainville governments can't agree just what question to ask in the Bougainville referendum on possible independence.

John Momis and Peter O'Neill

John Momis and Peter O'Neill Photo: RNZ / AFP

The indecision is delaying preparations for the referendum, which Bougainville has tentatively planned to hold on 15th June next year.

Decisions are meant to be formally agreed at the Joint Supervisory Board, or JSB, which is headed by the respective leaders of PNG and Bougainville, Peter O'Neill and John Momis.

But meetings of the JSB have been delayed several times in recent months.

The deputy opposition leader in the PNG parliament, and member for South Bougainville, Tim Masiu said he questioned Mr O'Neill in parliament about the continuing delays.

"Now the Prime Minister answered my question in parliament and said he was given four questions by the technical team, the government technical team, and he threw it back to them and them he only wants one question. I am not really sure about that, but, question or questions, that is something the Bougainville leaders and the national government will have to decide on that."

The JSB must also determine funding, with Bougainville president John Momis recently saying hundreds of millions of kina in constitutionally guaranteed payments from the national government were outstanding.