It's time to prepare for PNG election & Bougainville referendum
11 April 2016
THE Papua New Guinea government has a lot on its plate dealing with drought recovery and budget belt tightening but the United Nations is keen to add other important items to its to-do list.
United Nations resident coordinator for PNG, Roy Trivedy (pictured) was in Canberra last week for talks Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
PNG voters will go to a national election in June 2017 and the autonomous region of Bougainville is due to have a referendum on whether to become independent by 2020.
Mr Trivedy said that meant PNG needed to knuckle down on preparations and decision making in the next few months.
"We really need to start the work now," he told reporters in Canberra.
A decision on the timing of the referendum needed to be made before electioneering got under way next year otherwise there could be long delays.
PNG signed a peace agreement with Bougainville in 2001 after years of civil war.
The UN needed time to line up some of its best people for the referendum, Mr Trivedy said.
PNG, Australia's largest aid recipient, has been unable to achieve any of the UN's millennium development goals to reduce poverty and improve health and education levels.
Mr Trivedy hopes the country can get a better start on updated sustainable development goals.
It was important to collect baseline data early so progress could be measured, he said.
He still believed the country would have made progress on improving life expectancy since 2000.
Bougainvilleans alone will decide the political future of their island through referendum which they will conduct within or by 2020 and nobody else decides or imposes on them, not even the UN or any other such bodies.
The outcome of the referendum is ratified through the PNG National Parliament and then and only then will the referendum have substance.
While I appreciate expatriates of every colour and stripe flocking into Bougainville, I hope it would be to facilitate goodwill and for supporting service delivery to the people only and not to cause or stir up unnecessary trouble within the island. PNG is watching and watching carefully.
Posted by: Peter Pirape | 11 April 2016 at 09:05 AM