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Toroama to Marape: Get real on independence

Ipatas welcomes Marape
Enga governor Peter Ipatas welcomes prime minister James Marape to Enga Province for the Bougainville summit

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The second summit between prime minister James Marape and president Ishmael Toroama this week agreed that Bougainville’s quest for independence should be determined no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027.

The top level Wabag talks also agreed there will be consultations throughout Papua New Guinea on the outcome of the 2019 Bougainville referendum, in which 98% of voters opted for independence for the autonomous province.

Toroama noted that the technical team assisting the national government was avoiding using the word ‘independence’, replacing it with terms like ‘final political settlement’.

“The reluctance in using the word ‘independence’ by the PNG side was a denial of historical facts that have taken place over the last 32 years,” he told Marape.

“It is against the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and the amendments in the PNG constitution, to now bury the independence word at this late hour of our journey.”

Referring to the 20,000 lives it had cost, Toroama said the 1988-1998 Bougainville war had been about independence.

Bougainville independence talks
Left to right, James Marape, United  Nations PNG boss Dirk Wagener and Ishmael Toroama at the Bougainville talks in Wabag this week

He stressed that “the independence word” was in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the PNG constitution, the referendum itself and became the referendum’s majority result.

Bougainville’s quest for independence should be determined no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027, he said.

The pathway to independence will be guided by a joint roadmap yet to be agreed.

Critically, agreement on independence will depend on the outcome of a vote in PNG’s national parliament.

“I request that the two of us take leadership control of this agenda and give clear instructions to the technocrats,” an assertive Toroama told Marape.

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Nelson Lyin

Thanks.

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