Bougainville's leaders have accepted a deadline of no later than 2027 to gain independence from Papua New Guinea
97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans voted to secede from Papua New Guinea and become the world's youngest nation in a 2019 referendum.
Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama and PNG's Prime Minister James Marape held talks in the Highlands town of Wabag yesterday to try to agree to a way forward.
Mr Toroama has previously said he wanted Bougainville to be independent by 2025, but both parties have now agreed to a timetable for the transfer of many powers by 2023 with full independence following in 2027.
There has also been agreement for the PNG government to undertake national consultations on the issue.
The Joint Statement on the Second Joint Inter-Government Consultations, Wabag, Enga Province
The Government of Papua New Guinea (National Government) and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG):
Acknowledge the requirements of s.342 of the National Constitution for both the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to consult on the results of the Referendum;
Acknowledge that the first consultation was held on 18th and 19th May, 2021 at Kokopo, East New Britain Province, and that the Referendum results of 97.7% choice for separate independence was tabled at this consultation;
Acknowledge that the Bougainville Independence Consultation Team tabled in the Kokopo Consultation, the Year "2025" as the year for the Declaration of Bougainville's Independence;
Acknowledge that the Kokopo Consultations agreed to consult on a joint roadmap in the second consultation;
Acknowledge that the second consultation was held in Wabag on 6th of July 2021;
Consulted on the joint roadmap that will guide the post referendum process;
Acknowledge that the process needs to be agreed upon to decide the final political settlement.
We agree to:
Continue to consult and develop clarity on establishing the constitutional and parliamentary pathway for the tabling of the results of the Referendum, the outcome of the consultation to give effect to the results of the Referendum and the outcome of the Consultations, and the pathway consequential to the outcome of the National Parliament's decision.
Take all actions necessary to process an end point which is the culmination of all the activities that flows from the constitutional amendments give effect to the National Parliament's decision.
Take immediate actions which are focused on the full implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement subject to the National Constitution, with a focus on completing outstanding tasks under the pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, including the implementation of the Sharp Agreement to support the economic growth of Bougainville to ensure that Bougainville is in a position to effectively and efficiently manage its own economic affairs in preparation for a political settlement.
Allow the National Government to undertake national consultations across Papua New Guinea on the outcome of the Referendum, noting that the constitutional amendments which would have been set in motion by the signing of this Statement will need to be enacted to give effect to Bougainville's final political status.
Determine a political settlement no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027 guided by an agreed joint roadmap.