SIR MELCHIOR TOGOLO
| Chairman, Bougainville Copper Limited
PORT MORESBY - The beginning of the referendum on Bougainville’s political future marks both an historic and proud moment for all of us who identify as Bougainvillean or have links through marriage and other customary arrangements.
It has been a long road and everybody who has been involved in ensuring Bougainville is well prepared should be happy with the outcome of their efforts.
The impressive levels of public unity and the mutual respect that have been displayed throughout Bougainville in the lead up to the referendum is something we should all be proud of.
It has helped instill confidence that all is set for a truly peaceful process where everyone is encouraged to exercise their democratic right freely, according to his or her own wishes.
As one of the 206,731 registered voters, I consider this a unique privilege and along with other fundamental human rights, the right to cast our vote in this referendum is God-given.
It is however important that we think carefully about what we are voting for and I am sure everyone has.
There is naturally plenty of emotion around the referendum and voting is probably the easiest part.
The biggest challenges for us still lie ahead in terms of providing the infrastructure we need, the schools, hospitals, roads and all those other things that will help make the island prosperous.
This will only be realised from a strong base of peace, security and good governance.
Sir Melchior Togolo is from Rorovana in central Bougainville and held several senior positions with Bougainville’s former North Solomons Provincial Government between 1977 and 1990