Hopes for co-operative new Bougainville parlt
A former Bougainville president is calling for a co-operative new parliament that is fullu focuss on preparing the region for its vote on possible independable.
A former president of Bougainville says he expects little politicking in the incoming parliament as MPs focus on preparations for the referendum on independence.
Votes are now being counted in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region after a two week long voting process.
James Tanis, who was president from 2008 to 2010, says everyone will now be thinking of the referendum on possible independence from PNG, which has to be held before 2020.
He spoke with Don Wiseman, who began by asking for his assessment of the recent poll.
He hopes to run for president of Bougainville again at some stage in the future.
JAMES TANIS: On my part of the island I think it was very smooth and very successful.
DON WISEMAN: There have been a few question marks I think in terms of the state of the rolls. I know that is something of a perennial issue in Papua New Guinea isn't?
JT: Yes I think there were some complaints raised in different parts of Bougainville on people's names not on the Common Roll. I think it's clearly an administrative matter, that someone in the administration obviously did not do a very good job. On the overall it was more than successful.
DW: As has been talked about a few times, this next parliament is going into this critical period. Do you now post-election, have full confidence that you're going to get the best possible people in there?
JT: I'm confident that people are going to select wisely. My position is already that President Momis wil be coming back and there will be candidates from different constituencies in Bougainville. The reason why I say this is that the process here on Bougainville is a little bit different to Port Moresby in that the people vote for their president directly. It is not a situation where the majority party gets into parliament, forms the government and elects the prime minister. So I think there is some leverage that if we can elect a good president, the president can select a very good team and the president can have some flexibility in selecting good people even if they come outside of the party. I think the situation here gives the president all the opportunity to look beyond the party level, look beyond party politics and select the best people that can serve Bougainville and take Bougainville through the transition.
DW: Although he has been a long-time rival of yours, you are supportive of Mr Momis in this regard?
JT: Yes. I have supported him in this election and I would want to see him get re-elected.
DW: We have the likes of Sam Kauona, Ishmael Toroama, two people I think with quite close links to your part of the country. How do you think they've gone?
JT: I'm still confident when the counting is completed the winner will be President Momis. For Sam and Ishmael and even people like me. I think when the elections are over, after the issuing of the Writs, what I can foresee is that the referendum issue will be becoming closer to the focus of the people. With that I mean our focus on the island will be geared towards the referendum and the winning and losing issue of this election will soon be forgotten in preparation for referendum. I think that is the big picture. That Bougainville is going towards a referendum. A referendum which me, Sam Kauona, Ishmael. We the former BRA, we all support. I think I don't see there will be much politicking and any room for instability because by then we will be trying to move forward in preparation for the referendum to make sure we do get what struggled for. So what mean is that when the elections are over, when the issue of writs are done, when the winner is announced for the president, then it will be time for the next page. That will be preparation for the Bougainville referendum.
DW: In the presidential line up there is usually a lot of talent and in a way it's a shame to lose it isn't it if only one can be president and the others disappear from the parliamentary set up for another five year cycle. In some sense it would be quite good if they had the other option of being MPs isn't it?
JT: Yeah I think that is the downside of our system of elections in that on the presidential elections a good candidate runs for election, they lose, and we go to the street. But again I am confident that if President Momis returns to power, he will be old and wise enough to know that he needs to get all the presidential candidates together to work for the common good of Bougainville. It will be a disastrous mistake if whoever that wins this election, whoever becomes president and tries to marginalise those who have lost in this election. I think it is in the best interest of Bougainville that whoever wins this election, find employment for those who lose this election and the same goes for the constituencies as well.
DW: So you are advocating a period of strong cooperation, initiated by whoever it is that is elected president?
JT: Yes. Whoever it is who is elected president must find space for those who contested this election and the same goes for any other candidate. Whether it is President Momis or President Kauona or President Ishmael, they need to employ those who have contested this election. In the peace process for Bougainville there are many responsibilities that are around that people can play. Also there will be some of us who did not contest in this election who will be making representations to whoever wins this election, to keep all of us together in the same boat. We cannot afford to have a split just before the referendum.
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