Australia deceives Pacific – again
Under Marape, rights getting worse - report

Bougainville ‘dictatorship and suppression’?

John Momis
President John Momis - a Bougainville hero, but is he pushing too hard to assert control or do the difficult times need him?

| Pacific Beat | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

MELBOURNE - Three proposed amendments to the Bougainville constitution are set to be tabled in the provincial parliament, and one in particular is causing consternation in many quarters.

That change would allow the current president, John Momis, to run for an unprecedented third term at the election later this year.

But it's a move that has been condemned as very dangerous by one of the leading figures in the Bougainville peace process.

Martin Miriori, former secretary of both the Bougainville Interim Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, says it can only lead to dictatorship and suppression.

President Momis's bid to secure a third term in office appears to have the backing of the MP for South Bougainville in the PNG Parliament, Timothy Masiu.

Mr Masiu argues that the relationship between Mr Momis and prime minister James Marape is important to the progress of consultations on Bougainville's future status.

But Mr Miriori says that's no reason to change the constitution, as Mr Momis could just as easily fulfil the same role as an advisor.

The amendments bill will go out to public consultation before being voted on by MPs, many of whom have already signalled their opposition in social media posts.

News Director at New Dawn FM, Aloysius Laukai, says how they will actually vote in parliament is a matter of conjecture.


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Joachim Lummani

Changing ABG's constitution to allow the sitting president to re-contest

Some AROBIANs see no issue with changing the constitution while some do not agree. Below are some viewpoints:

1. One point of view is that, changing the constitution to let the current president to re-contest, is an extension of voting for Box 2: Independence. In this regard, the current president has the advantage of having an 'institutional memory' in terms of PNG and AROB politics, and also being one of the key peoples involved in developing the national constitution. You need the light of the past, not just technical knowledge about law, political science and what not, to guide the crucial process AROBIANs embark upon now. President Momis is that light from the past that you need most now, let alone his two deceased colleagues. AROB does not need amateurs to navigate the rough waters to get to the destination that people voted for. Cool thinking Arobians know that they need the guy. You don't need him as an adviser. AROB needs the guy as a captain. It would be a mistake to get caught up in the euphoria of voting for independence by 98%. This does not mean much. It is only an expression of peoples' choice: nothing more, nothing less!. You need experienced people, also with regional and international credibility, to lead the process to a safer and secured point from where young leaders may now take over. This is not the right time for an experienced AROBIAN leader to step aside just when he is needed most at the helm.

2. Some people may see changing the constitution as doing violence to it or abusing a law that is supposed to govern all of us. This is not the right way of seeing it in the context of AROB at this point in time. We all respect the spirit of the constitution and should not get caught up in a legalistic mindset. If there is a felt need to modify it to serve our interest at this point in the history that we are collectively creating, let it be done to serve the overall interest of AROB in the current process that people are undergoing. People will speak for themselves. The argument about 'setting a precedence' for potential future eventuations of the same issues from ignorance on the part of those who are supposed to have known better as leaders. You don't just change some national constitution any time you like for any insubstantial reasons. You just don't do that. That'd be stupid and that's not what we mean when we talk about modifying the AROB constitution at this point in time.

3. Arguments against modifying the constitution to allow President Momis to re-contest also arise because those who probably want to contest the presidential seat fear that a potential re-contest by Momis is likely to marginalize their chances of winning due to his popularity. This is going against the need to change the constitution really for personal political reasons, not much to do with the collective interest of the region at this crucial point in history. We all understand this. There is no problem to feel that way even within a domestic household as long as one is in control.

.4. Against Momis is also the view heard from some that Momis is a man conditioned by the past and relying on it to address issues of the present, while the current world is being driven by capitalist economics, science and technology; thereby, someone well versed with current trends should be leading AROB, they'd say. Let us recall that society is much more than the portrayals presented by scientific industrial technology and dictates and standards of modern unbridled capitalist economics. Does AROBIANs want a leader who manipulates people through the system without them even knowing it?

AROBIANs need President Momis at this point in time. He has not completed his job yet. When his job is done, he will depart a happy man.

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