PNG opposition queries PM's Bougainville portfolio

4:37 pm on 13 January 2016

The opposition in Papua New Guinea is questioning the motive behind the prime minister taking on the Bougainville Affairs Ministry in light of the looming referendum on independence.

PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill has allocated himself the portfolio in his latest cabinet reshuffle.

Mr O'Neill says this is because the autonomous PNG region is a top priority for the government as it is set to hold a referendum on possible independence by 2020.

But the opposition leader, Don Polye, says stripping off the ministry from a Bougainvillean MP who has local knowledge of the issues is a slap in the people's face.

He says the prime minister has been playing down the seriousness of the Bougainville government by cutting funds owed under the peace agreement.

Mr Polye says the prime minister should reinstate the member for South Bougainville or appoint any other MPs from the autonomous region as the minister for Bougainville Affairs.

Arawa, Bougainville

Arawa, Bougainville Photo: RNZI