By Winterford Toreas
Preparations to conduct of the 2017 National Elections in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have been boosted with the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
This small but significant ceremony which took place last week in Buka was facilitated by the PNG Chief Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato and, the acting ABG chief secretary, Paul Kebori.
Speaking after the signing of the MOU, Mr Gamato said this event marks another important occasion between PNGEC and ABG.
“The MOU is for us to use the public service machinery or staff within the Bougainville government to conduct the election,” Mr Gamato said.
“As you all know, the PNGEC does not have all the staff and the resources and so what we have normally done in past elections is to use the staff from the provincial governments or provincial administrations throughout the country including Bougainville to conduct the elections.
“This MOU strengthens that working relationship,” Mr Gamato continued,” and what we also want to see under that MOU is that they start having the election steering committee.
“[This] is normally chaired by the provincial administrators or, as in Bougainville’s case, the chief secretary or deputy chief in the province in charge of the public service, so they can start planning the conduct of the 2017 elections.”
Mr Gamato said this MOU, which will also be signed with other provincial administrations in the country, was also very important because it will also enable stakeholders from other government departments operating in each respective provinces like the police, defence and NBC radio stations to also contribute to the staging of the elections.
He also commented briefly on the need to fully establish the provincial election steering committee in Bougainville, before adding that a provincial awareness committee should also be established to start utilising recognized materials to conduct awareness throughout Bougainville.
Mr Gamato thanked the ABG for signing the MOU before adding that PNGEC will continue to work with ABG in preparing for the 2017 National Elections.
The Acting ABG Chief Secretary Mr Paul Kebori has assured Mr Gamato that ABG public servants will be allowed to participate in carrying out duties and responsibilities pertaining to the staging of the national elections in Bougainville.