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Toroama sets sights on Bougainville independence

Bougainville president-elect Ishmael Toroama

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Former commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Ishmael Toroama, yesterday won a clear majority to take over the presidency of Bougainville.

In his acceptance speech, Toroama appeared to hit back at allegations from the outgoing president, John Momis, who suggested there had been corruption in the poll.

"The people have clearly spoken as there is a big gap between me and the next candidate,” he said.

"We conducted a clean campaign. We did not give money to the voters and we did not intimidate any voters.

“People have used their God-given wisdom to vote for the right candidate."

Toroama, who was a commander in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army during the civil war of the 1990s, said his government would continue work towards implementing the wishes of Bougainvilleans including pushing ahead with the autonomous region's drive for independence.

He will form a government to implement last year's referendum result, which saw Bougainvilleans overwhelmingly back independence from PNG with nearly 98% of more than 181,000 voters supporting such an outcome.

Meanwhile PNG prime minister, James Marape, congratulated Toroama on his election.

Marape said he looked forward to working with him to secure the outcome of the referendum.

Marape indicated he would meet Toroama in the coming weeks to discuss the next steps of the independence process.


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Martin Kaalund

There is a group,the Afro Caribbean American group of lawyers who have consulted with Buka leaders. They offer model constitutions and laws for constitutional development of independent states.

Whether the PNG government accepts their visits will be gauged by the appearance of Jamaican lawyers either in Buka or Honiara.

Confidentiality is maintained so far. Seen any Jamaican lawyers in Waigani?

Philip Kai Morre

Congratulation, president-elect Ishmael Toroama, for your victory. The people of Bougainville have spoken.

Please take prudent steps for the cause of your independence you have fought for. Don't not rush but think and plan properly. God be with you.

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