Papua New Guinea, Bougainville set date for independence vote

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The leaders of Papua New Guinea and the autonomous region of Bougainville, on Monday agreed to an independence referendum target date of June 2019.

Roy Trivedy, UN Representative to PNG, said in Port Moresby that the planning process for a vote of independence from PNG, was given a kick-start late last week after it was agreed the referendum is to be targeted for June 15, 2019.

The representative said the referendum must be held by 2020 according to the agreement.

He said PNG has also agreed to provide funding for the vote’s preparations.

“There was good cooperation between both governments and as the official communique when it is issued, hopefully later this week, will make clear there as good progress on several important issues.

Trivedy said the follow-up work would now be vital.

Meanwhile, Bougainville’s President, John Momis, has called for all factions to dispose of weapons as the referendum’s legitimacy would be in doubt if they remained.

He said it is only then would Bougainville would be Referendum ready.

“The Bougainville Peace Agreement requires that the Referendum be free and fair.

A source said the factions are still holding weapons on fears the PNG government would refuse to hold the referendum as stipulated by the peace agreement.

New Zealand-led peace talks in 1997, ending a near-decade long rebellion that saw almost 20,000 people killed after it was found the then Papua New Guinean (PNG) government had sought international mercenaries to regain control of the resource rich island.

A peace agreement was then reached in 2000, establishing the autonomous region of Bougainville.

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