Bougainville Referendum Commission to discuss specific options

12:48 pm on 17 June 2019

The Bougainville Referendum Commission will talk about the options facing Bougainvilleans as it tours the region informing people about the coming referendum.

A tentative date of June 15th 2019 has been set for a referendum on possible independence in the Autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville.

Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

In October, Bougainvilleans will vote on whether to stay with Papua New Guinea or become independent.

The acting president, Raymond Masono, said the commission will be talking about specifics during its consultations.

He said for instance when it comes to greater autonomy people would want to know what additional powers might be granted on top of what Bougainville already has.

"For example are they going to give us all the financial powers, are they going to give us the right to negotiate with outside financial institutions, those are the things that the people want to know. ... that and other powers, for example, what aspect of foreign affairs would they be willing to give us.

"For example the three nautical miles. Would they be extending it to 12 nautical miles."

Mr Masono said something akin to the New Zealand approach over its realm countries, self government in free association, could be considered if greater autonomy was chosen in the October vote.

Last week his government announced that greater autonomy would be "a negotiated political settlement that provides for a form of autonomy with greater powers than those currently available under constitutional arrangements".

And independence means an "independent nation state with sovereign powers and laws, recognised under international law and by other sovereign states to be an independent state, separate from the State of Papua New Guinea".

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