STAFF REPORTER | Radio New Zealand
BOUGAINVILLE – Martin Miriori, a leading figure in the Bougainville separatist movement, says efforts to dissuade the people from seeking independence is too late.
Mr Miriori was speaking after it was revealed that former Papua New Guinea prime ministers Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Sir Julius Chan and Paias Wingti plan to visit Bougainville to try and ensure the country stays unified.
In June next year Bougainvilleans will vote on whether to become independent of PNG as the final step in their region's lengthy peace agreement.
The former prime ministers have been encouraged by prime minister Peter O'Neill to urge Bougainvilleans to stay within PNG, but Mr Miriori says they should have come earlier.
"The effort is too late, much too late. They should have come earlier.
“And some of these prime ministers that are trying to come - they are part and parcel of the problem."
Mr Miriori pointed out that Sir Rabbie was responsible for escalating the Bougainville crisis by sending in the PNG Defence Force, while Sir Julius tried to deploy the mercenary group, Sandline, to Bougainville.