EDITOR | Radio New Zealand Pacific
AUCKLAND – Bougainville’s president John Momis has raised concerns that the Papua New Guinea government is not pulling its weight as the autonomous region prepares for next June’s referendum on its political future.
Momis recently met with PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill at a meeting of a joint supervisory board to discuss preparing for the vote.
However, outstanding financial commitments of hundreds of millions of kina which PNG owes to Bougainville remain an obstacle to preparations.
PNG finally made a minor payment of $US1.49 million to Bougainville last week, but the cheque bounced, although this embarrassment has been denied by PNG treasurer Charles Abel.
Momis said in an interview with Radio New Zealand that PNG was continually failing to deliver on commitments and he was considering approaching the United Nations, New Zealand or Australia for advice.
Momis says there is a need for a higher authority to enforce PNG’s obligations under the Bougaivlle Peace Agreement as well as the implementation of the referendum.
He said there is still much to do to prepare for the vote, now described as being “set tentatively” for June, but the national government is not doing its bit.
Both governments are equally responsible for the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, signed in 2001.
Momis said it is getting very late and the window of opportunity is closing, while the national government procrastinates, making commitments but not implementing them.
"We have come all this way but the national government does not seem to care, so we are running out of time,” Momis said.
“It's frustrating. I am saying what is Australia going to do, what is New Zealand going to do? They were the witnesses [to the peace agreement]. What is the United Nations going to do?"