My message to prime minister James Marape
Eric Tapakau – skilful communicator who loved Bougainville

Can you vote in the Bougainville referendum? John Momis tells

Dr John MomisGRAND CHIEF JOHN MOMIS | Office of the President
| Autonomous Region of Bougainville

BUKA - I am aware of discussions around who is eligible to vote in the referendum.

Let me start with reminding all that the Bougainville Referendum Commission was set up by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government to administer the referendum in an impartial and inclusive manner.

They must implement the law as it stands, and I support their efforts to do so.

The rules for who can register and vote at the referendum date back to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which states – in section 315 - that “eligibility to vote in the referendum will be the same as for national elections in Bougainville plus non-resident Bougainvilleans.”

The peace agreement was of course the product of negotiations, with the content agreed by both sides, including those representing Bougainville. As you know, I myself signed the peace agreement.

Section 315 of the agreement and the Organic Law on Peacebuilding and Bougainville Referendum gives the right to vote to all Papua New Guinea citizens who have resided in Bougainville for at least six months and meet other criteria such as age.

This applies regardless of whether you consider the person to be Bougainvillean or not.

After the enrolment period, the draft role will be displayed for public inspection and objections. Any voter who believes that an enrolled person is not eligible – due to age, for example, or due to not having resided in Bougainville for the last six months – can lodge an objection that will be considered and determined by the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

These criteria have been known for a long time – there is no new rule being applied.

We have waited 20 years for this referendum, and so we must participate in our largest possible numbers. I call on all eligible voters to enrol during the upcoming enrolment exercise, and to participate in the display and review process that will follow.

The enrolment criteria for those living in Bougainville are:

  • have been living in Bougainville for at least the past six months prior to enrolment
  • were born on or before 12 October 2001
  • are a PNG citizen
  • are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections

For non-resident Bougainvilleans (Bougainvilleans living outside Bougainville), the eligibility criteria for enrolment have been agreed to be:

  • have links to Bougainville by birth, adoption, marriage or clan
  • were born on or before 12 October 2001
  • are a PNG citizen
  • are entitled to vote in PNG national elections


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