| Former President of Bougainville
BUKA - Greater voter participation in this year’s Bougainville government general elections will demonstrate the province’s seriousness to initiate progress following the 98% affirmative independence vote in the referendum last year.
The outcome of the referendum does not mean Bougainville is well on its way to being a fully-fledged independent nation.
The 98% affirmation by Bougainvilleans to be independent was a part of the process of self-determination that expressed the wishes of the people as stipulated by the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
This is where the real work begins, this is where we must demonstrate to Papua New Guinea and the international community our seriousness to institute change and progress on Bougainville to be independent.
Let us not lose sight of our ultimate goal which is to complete Bougainville’s political journey.
We need to mobilise and start work on the ground preparations for independence, lock in on the ratification through consultations with the national government and we must advocate for international recognition to complete Bougainville’s political journey.
Our aspirations for independence cannot be waylaid by impractical approaches. Bougainville’s political agenda must remain our primary focus as it is the overarching theme that will enable development to take place and lasting peace to prevail.
I urge Bougainvilleans to realise that there are no shortcuts. It is important that we follow the process already in place to give credibility to our cause.
People of Bougainville, the amount of energy that was displayed during the referendum vote must also be present during this election so I urge you all to cast your votes and vote a leader who will serve the interest of the people and ensure our political aspirations are realised.
James Tanis is one of 25 candidates vying for the Bougainville presidency. He was a lead negotiator during the peace negotiations and a political leader during and after the Bougainville crisis of the 1990s. He served as Bougainville president from 2008-10. He is currently secretary for the Department of the Peace Agreement and Implementation