Bougainville independence by 2025, declares Toroama
19 May 2021
NOOSA – In a statement that will send shock waves through Papua New Guinea, Australia and beyond, Bougainville’s president Ishmael Toroama yesterday declared the autonomous province must achieve independence by June 2025.
Toroama revealed the position of the Autonomous Bougainville Government on its political future at a summit with PNG prime minister James Marape that began in Kokopo yesterday.
The summit follows the 2019 referendum in which 97.7% percent of Bougainvilleans opted for independence from PNG.
The two governments are meeting to consult over this outcome as required by the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the PNG Constitution.
“When both governments signed the Bougainville Peace Agreement in August 2001, we committed ourselves to a deferred 15-year referendum period,” Toroama said.
“This was to allow time to our people, on both sides, to heal the wounds of the conflict and ponder over what we need to find as a final solution for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.
“For those who fought for independence, we wanted independence at that time of our (2001) negotiations over the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“But in all fairness to our people, we were prepared to wait 15 years to allow our them to have their say through a free and fair referendum vote at some later stage,” he said.
Toroama said the referendum results made it clear Bougainvilleans wanted independence and rejected the option of greater autonomy.
For 16 years they had “lived, seen, worked and experienced” the slow progress under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
He said autonomy or any future arrangement short of independence was not an option.
“Our position on the future political status of Bougainville is clear, and that is independence,” he said.
Toroama laid down the June 2025 as the deadline for independence, which would follow general elections throughout Bougainville.
This is nothing short of the outcome that I have expected for a long time.
I was a nobody first working in Panguna in the latter part of 1969 with Barclay Bros.
I returned in 1976 as manager of the Plant and Transport Authority and was heavily involved in the supply of plant and roadbuilding equipment to the Department of Works, ably managed by civil engineer Per George.
During his time in Bougainville, the all-weather road was pushed through from Kieta to Buin and Kieta to Buka and many secondary roads were started and completed.
The late Leo Hannett and Dr Alex Sari were great movers and shakers in the development of their province and provided much hands-on assistance in smoothing out the pathways in getting the jobs done.
During this time I had an interesting outcome from the Japanese plant manufacturer, Komatsu. In June we took delivery of a Komatsu GD40 motor grader for evaluation in the working conditions of Bougainville.
The keys were passed to me by the Komatsu managing director for Oceania for publicity photos for the Komatsu Magazine.
That night at dinner in the Davara Motel, I casually mentioned to Mr Kas Koiki that I hoped that we would get a better run out of the grader than we were getting out of our D65 dozers and loaders as we were not getting a very long track life out of them between rebuilds.
Nothing more was said at the time.
About six weeks later I had a phone call from their distributor, Tutt Bryants, asking could I make available space in our heavy workshop for three technicians who had arrived from Tokyo to upgrade and rebuild the track gear on our D65 machines. Compliments of Komatsu Heavy Industries.
Never heard of Chinese companies doing this.
Footnote: The grader achieved 1,800+ hours work in its first 12 months. Our head office budget for that class was 1,035 hours.
Posted by: William Dunlop | 19 May 2021 at 11:09 AM