Posts Categorized: Autonomous Bougainville Government

Bougainville united in celebration of Peace Agreement

By Ishmael Palipal

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The people of Bougainville people celebrated a major milestone on 30 August 2016 with the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

The 2001 BPA signing signified peace, reconciliation and unity for all Bougainvilleans and was an emotional moment that people longed to witness after more than ten years of bloodshed.

During this 2001 signing, the Bougainville people, the Bougainville government and Papua New Guinea Government agreed on terms and conditions they would follow in order to achieve lasting peace, development and, eventually, referendum.

The agreement is centered around autonomy, referendum and weapons disposal, the three pillars that Bougainville should achieve when working in co-operation with the parties concerned.

Yesterday’s ceremony emphasized the importance of BPA and the President Dr John Momis and other speakers strongly emphasized that all parties must work in accordance with the BPA and should not breach it.

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There was a consensus that the BPA is a joint effort between Bougainville and PNG and all must uphold their duties and obligations towards achieving the objectives—lasting peace and unity, development and referendum.

Mrs Ruby Mirinka, a signatory to the BPA as a representative of the women and children of Bougainville, pointed out that peace an opportunity to grow and develop. Given this opportunity there are other fights such as those against things that are undermining the growth of this region such as the effects of drugs and alcohol on communities and an economic crisis.

Mrs Mirinka elaborated that should carefully utilise the resources they have so that in the coming years there will be something concrete to celebrate.

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Ishmael Toroama spoke on behalf of the ex-combatants and reminded the people that God is the framer of the peace in Bougainville and all Bougainvilleans must embrace every opportunity.

He assured the people that ex-combatants are in full support of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) towards the referendum.

Philip Miroiri, who represented the Mekamui, shared similar sentiments and spoke of standing united with ABG ahead of the referendum.

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Like others who strongly stressed the importance of peace in Bougainville, UN Resident Coordinator Mr Roy Trivedy outlined a strong link between peace and development.

“When there is no peace,” Mr Trivedy stated, “there will be no development.

“When there is no development there will be no lasting peace.”

He concluded that only through peace will Bougainville flourish and it is the responsibility of all the concerned parties to ensure this is achieved.

The ABG President Chief Dr John Momis closed the day with his keynote speech addressing the importance of the Peace Agreement and encouraged all parties to respect it.

He strongly challenged the National Government to honour the BPA and to support by assisting Bougainville as agreed.

Mr Momis assured the people of Bougainville that Bougainville will still arrive in her final destination through this referendum.

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Bougainville to get Rio’s BCL stake

By Keith Jackson

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Peter O’Neill has avoided a full frontal clash with the Autonomous Bougainville Government by agreeing to give it a majority stake in the Panguna gold and copper mine.

In a move that was fundamentally stupid, mining giant Rio Tinto in June decided to split its 53.8% stake in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to leave the PNG and Bougainville governments each with 36.4% of the equity.

It was a recipe for potential conflict and tragedy which only a global company with no sense of the society and culture within which it was operating could have formulated.

And now it seems that Peter O’Neill has let Rio off the hook.

BCL’s Panguna mine was closed in 1989 after attacks by secessionist rebels. The subsequent conflict in which Bougainvilleans first fought Papua New Guineans and then each other cost between 10,000 and 20,000 lives.

Rio’s decision to leave Bougainville in a hand wrestle with PNG angered the provinces’s president John Momis who consistently said his people would never accept equal or majority control of BCL by PNG.

This left Peter O’Neill facing the prospect of having half of nothing or hanging on to his existing 19% share of a potentially very rich resource.

It seems he has opted for a piece of the action as well as peace of mind.

O’Neill told the PNG parliament Wednesday that his government  would transfer the 17.4% Rio stake to Bougainville to “help to alleviate some of the legacy issues of the past”.

These issues included the continued failure of his government to honour some key conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“With this transfer, the people of Bougainville will own a combined shareholding of 53.8% of BCL,” O’Neill stated, apparently casting asunder a range of side deals he had tried to put in place with Rio.

Bougainville is rich in minerals – especially gold, silver and copper – and the Panguna mine, when re-opened, is expected to have at least another 30 years of highly profitable production.

Bougainville is also facing a referendum before 2020 on whether it should split from PNG and become an independent state.

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Masiu declared member-elect for South Bougainville

By Winterford Toreas


The people of South Bougainville now have a new member in the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea following the declaration of People’s Progress Party candidate, Mr Timothy Masiu, as member-elect on Monday, 4 July 2016.

He was declared winner by the Returning Officer of the South Bougainville by-election, John Itanu, in Buin yesterday afternoon, beating eleven other candidates.

Mr Masiu had polled 8,337 votes, ahead of second place candidate Dr Joe Kim Suwamaru of the United Resource Party, received 6,121 votes.

Former Director for Peace in the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Nick Peniai, who was endorsed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress Party came third in the election.

The South Bougainville Open seat had become vacant following the death of former member and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Constitutional Matters, the late Steven Pirika Kamma, in February this year.

Mr Masiu and Dr Suwamaru had been leading the race since counting began on Friday evening till the end of the preliminary count, however Masiu began to strengthen the margin when counting proceeded into the elimination stages.

Masiu was able to maintain his lead till the 10th and final exclusive process which saw him collecting more votes after the elimination of Mr Peniai, thus surpassing the absolute majority of 7229 votes.

Mr Masiu is not new to politics and prior to contesting the by-election he had been serving as the Executive Officer for the Deputy Prime Minister and East New Britain Regional MP, Sir Leo Dion.

He first contested the South Bougainville Open seat in the 2012 National Elections and came runner-up to former member, the late Steven Pirika Kamma.

Mr Masiu is a respected senior radio journalist in the country.

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Rio walking away from environmental responsibility – Momis

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The President of Bougainville, Chief John Momis, has expressed deep anger at Rio Tinto’s refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and other damage done by the Panguna mine and has insisted that Rio accept responsibility for mining legacy issues.

“When I met [Rio Tinto] officials… in Port Moresby, they flatly rejected any responsibility for their contribution to the damage done by the Panguna Mine,” President Momis said

“Rio’s officials gave me two reasons for not accepting responsibility for mine impacts: first, Rio operated under the PNG law of the day; second, they were forced out of Panguna by the conflict.

“The truth is Rio Tinto generated huge revenues from what we all now know was the terrible injustice of its Bougainville mining operations. The mine shut down in 1989 only because anger over that injustice generated demands for a renegotiated agreement.

“It’s now clear the BCA was deeply unjust. It ignored environmental damage and social impacts. Only a tiny share of mine revenue was distributed to landowners and to the North Solomons Provincial Government,” President Momis continued.

“The gross injustice of the BCA has since been recognised by Rio. As a result it made major changes to its own policies, especially in relation to landowners. It accepted new standards of sustainable development as a founder of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

“Rio is now deeply hypocritical in its blatant disregard of the higher corporate responsibility standards it says it has adopted.

“It now seems Rio has no commitment to social responsibility or sustainable development principles. It talks those principles only when that helps its profits. But it throws them out when costs to its bottom line could be involved.

“Now Rio Tinto proposes to walk away from responsibility for the effects of the injustice of its highly profitable operations.

“Rio cannot rely on grossly unjust past laws to escape its contemporary responsibilities for what we now know was wrong. Corporate social responsibility means responsible companies accept that their responsibilities go beyond the legal requirements of the day.

“I am writing to the Managing Director of Rio Tinto asking him to reconsider not only the Rio decision about its shares, but also its refusal to deal with its Panguna legacy responsibilities.

“I am also writing to the International Council of Metals and Mining asking them to end Rio Tinto’s membership because of its failure to honour the ICMM’s 10 Principles for Sustainable Development Performance.

“Finally, I am seeking the earliest possible meeting with Prime Minister O’Neill to discuss how best to defuse the dangerous situation created by Rio’s decision on its shares in BCL.”

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President angered by Rio Tinto departure

Bougainville President, John Momis, today expressed anger at Rio Tinto’s decision to transfer its 53.8 per cent share in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). International mining giant, Rio earlier announced transfer if its BCL shares to an independent trustee, for distribution to the ABG (36.4 per cent), and the PNG Government (17.4 per cent).

PNG is already 2nd largest BCL shareholder. So the share distribution would see the governments equal BCL shareholders – 36.4 per cent each. The remaining 27 per cent of shares are held by small shareholders.

Rio Tinto has been reviewing its BCL shareholding for almost two years. The review resulted in Rio deciding to end its investment in BCL, which ran the giant copper and gold mine at Panguna from 1972 to 1989, under the 1967 Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA).

“Rio Tinto has made a unilateral decision,” President Momis said, “it failed to consult the Bougainville Government about distributing its shares.”

“At meetings with senior Rio officials, in July 2015 and February 2016, I warned strongly against transfer of Rio’s shares to PNG. It Bougainvilleans cannot accept National Government control over the future of Panguna through either majority or equal shareholding in BCL.

“We are open to PNG remaining a BCL shareholder. That may assist us find responsible partners and financiers for possible future operations at Panguna. But we cannot accept Rio Tinto’s interference in seeking to give PNG equal control over Panguna. There is no possibility of progress on resolving the future of Panguna on that basis.”

“Rio Tinto has shown arrogance and ignorance in ignoring my warning. Sitting in their comfortable London offices, they have interfered in Bougainville’s affairs by deciding PNG should have equal control of BCL.

“Bougainvilleans are united in rejecting what Rio Tinto seeks to thrust upon us.”

 

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Effects of moratorium on small-scale mining must be considered – Momis

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The President of Bougainville, Chief John Momis, has stated that the ABG ensure the existing small-scale mining industry is protected if a decision is made to lift the moratorium on mining exploration.

The BEC will not make a decision on the moratorium until the Bougainville Mining Department has fully implemented the Bougainville Mining Act provisions on small scale-mining, which includes the reserving areas for small scale mining.

“[Small-scale mining] is an industry where benefits spread to the people in villages and hamlets,” President Momis said.

“Their interests cannot be thrown away in favour of new large-scale mining interests with exploration licences; if we do not recognise small-scale miners, there will be dangers of unrest, and even conflict.”

The Mining Department has till October 2016 to set up the new arrangements for licensing small-scale mining.

If and when the moratorium is lifted, exploration licences are then likely to cover most areas where the ten thousand or more small-scale Bougainvillean miners now operate.

Once an exploration licence is granted over an area, a community mining reservation is possible only with permission from the exploration licence holder and it is believed that most are unlikely to consent.

The President also expressed concerns about the excessive development of small scale mines.

Though the ABG Mining Act restricts the number of simultaneous large-scale mining leases to maximum of two, there is no restriction on the number of small-scale mines.

“I am also requesting the Minister [Robin Wilson] to investigate and report to me, as a matter of urgency, on how to ensure that Bougainville is not threatened by many mines being established,” President Momis urged.

“It was fear of this led Bougainvilleans to request the moratorium in 1971. It remains a real danger.

“Once the Moratorium is lifted, if exploration licences are granted for all prospective areas, it will be difficult to limit the number of small mining leases,” President Momis continued.

“Lease holders and landowners will pressure for developments to go ahead, so they can get the money on offer from mining.

“Once exploration licences are granted, we could face huge pressures to approve small mines, wherever exploitable minerals are discovered; we could perhaps have 10 or 20 such mines at the same time. The social and environmental impacts could be massive. Most of the available mineral resources could be extracted rapidly, in one generation, and all mining revenue too.

The President has sought the advice of the Mining Minister on how to address this issue.

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Future of moratorium in the hands of BEC

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Chief John Momis, President of Bougainville, spoke today about debate in Bougainville’s House of Representatives on the future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development. The House concluded the debate on Tuesday 7 June and passed a motion asking the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to lift the moratorium completely

The debate followed a request from the Bougainville Executive Council in April, when all members were also asked to seek the views of their constituents.

President Momis took the opportunity to identify some of the issues around the moratorium.

“The moratorium was imposed in April 1971, by the colonial administration,” President Momis said, “it prevented mining exploration or development in all areas except those already under BCL leases.

“Bougainvillean leaders asked for the moratorium [at that time] because of deep concerns that there might be many more mines in addition to the huge Panguna mine.”

The President stated that part of the reason the motion to lift the moratorium was passed was to address problem of public revenue.

“Although I proposed to the House that the moratorium should initially be lifted partially, most members of the House preferred to lift it completely,” President Momis continued.

“A major factor here is National Government failure to fund the ABG as the Peace Agreement requires.

“The ABG’s bad financial position means we must increase our internal revenue.

“Most members see mining sector development as the best way to lift the Bougainville economy, and also provide ABG revenue; My Government has listened to and will implement the motion of the House.”

The motion passed last week by the House was for the purposes of consultation and does not lift the moratorium. Under the Mining Act, it is the Bougainville Executive Council that has power to lift the moratorium and only once it has received advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Committee and allowed the House another opportunity for debate on the issues.

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MPs participate in leadership seminar

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Bougainville House of Representatives have conducted an induction workshop for elected members of Parliament

The three-day induction seminar, held 30 March – 1 April, was aimed at assisting Members of Parliaments to better understand and more effectively perform their roles. The workshop covered key aspects of Parliament’s work, operational procedures, role of women in leadership and more. MPs also had an opportunity to learn from the experiences from the Australian, New Zealand, and Solomon Island Parliaments.

The Bougainville House of Representatives is a key institution to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement. The elected parliamentarians, who form the Bougainville House of Representative, play a vital role in decision making under the Autonomous Bougainville Government.  As newly elected representatives, they need to be informed and inducted on various parliamentary processes, procedures and current events to make informed decisions on key governance issues.

The initiative is part of UNDP’s ongoing efforts to support the parliamentary work in Papua New Guinea. It aims to deepen democracy, strengthen the rule of law and promote good governance through effective leadership.

“UNDP is pleased to provide this support and we hope this capacity building workshop will inspire and equip the parliamentarians to do their work effectively as they strive to bring about real and tangible development changes to improve people’s lives”, said Mr. Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative.

“The 3 day BHOR induction workshop supported by the UNDP created the platform for our parliamentarians to interact with colleagues from other parliamentary jurisdictions in the region, and to better understand their roles as parliamentarians in providing servant leadership to their constituents. All the sessions were very empowering for our members and will make them better parliamentarians” said Francisca Semoso, Deputy Speaker, Bougainville House of Representatives.

Experiences were shared by experts in different fields from the region. Mark Burton (former New Zealand MP and Minister), Geoffrey Lee (Member of  New South Wales Legislative Assembly in Australia) and Freda Tuki (Minister of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Solomon Islands) provided a political perspective.

Leslie Gonye (Clerk-Assistant, Table and Sergeant-at-Arms, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament, Australia) and Steven Reynolds (Deputy Clerk, Legislative Council, NSW Parliament, Australia) provided their expertise on parliamentary procedure.

Deryck Fritz, a Referendum Consultant, looked at the the processes involved with a successful referendum.

The workshop is part of UNDP’s wider work within UN Peacebuilding Fund to support peaceful implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. By providing its assistance, in partnership with all other partners, UNDP contributes to building peace and democratic governance critical for the successful achievement of social and economic development in Bougainville and PNG.

Globally UNDP has been working with more than 60 parliaments in an effort to strengthen parliament as an institution of governance. UNDP has been providing technical assistance to parliaments around the world in efforts to build capacity of legislator and technical staff; promote institutional reform; strengthen parliament’s relationship with the executive and judiciary branches of government and civil society; and enhance the effectiveness of women members of parliament and improve their ability to caucus and learn from one another.

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Support facility to improve commodity output

By Ishmael Palipal

People listen to the speeches at the CSF launch ceremony. People listen to the speeches at the CSF launch ceremony.

The Commodity Support Facility, an initiative of the Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand governments, has been launched to help the people of Bougainville make the most of their hard work and abundant natural resources that they are blessed with.

The project aims at driving the economic development forward through supporting the primary producers to boost output, improve quality and gain better market access. It engages the private sector, encourages innovation and will create income earning opportunities for women and young people.

The launch was carried out on Thursday 17 of March at Bel Isi Park in Buka and was attended by President Dr John Momis and some of his cabinet ministers, PNG representative Mr John Avira, Councilor Rob Hilton representing Australian government and New Zealand High Commissioner Ms Cathleen Pias – representing New Zealand government.

Speaking at the event, Mr Rob Hilton indicated that the launch signified the start of one of the biggest agricultural projects in Bougainville.

As it was described during the launching by representatives from the four governments, the first phase of the project will be focused on the Bougainville’s biggest cash crop, cocoa, on which around 90 per cent of the Bougainville’s population depends.

The targeted support through this towards cocoa production is focused on lifting production and quality, and also to secure better market access for sellers. Then in time it will expand to other ABG prioritized sectors such as coconut, palm oil, cattle, fisheries and seaweed farming.

The ABG President, Chief Dr John Momis, stated that cocoa is the first commodity to be affected, but it’s not only cocoa that this project will focus on but other commodities and industries such as tourism. He also assured the people that this will put Bougainville into another stage to move towards a referendum.

Flag raising was conducted to signify the start of the ceremony at Bel Isi Park in Buka. Flag raising was conducted to signify the start of the ceremony at Bel Isi Park in Buka.

The project will be jointly administered by the Bougainville Primary Industry and Marine Resources, which will oversee also quarantine and inspection; ensuring high-quality standards are established and maintained.

The launching of CSF was ended with a signing of agreement between the partners that will ensure that the project is support by all partners to help Bougainville’s future grow.

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The 25 year history of Rememberance Day

By Tevu Tenasi

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May 17 1990 is one of the greatest events in the history of Bougainville, marked in the Bougainville calendar as Independence was declared.

In Arawa on that day the Late Francis Ona made the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, one which is only acknowledged by one party.

In 1997, the term Remembrance Day began to be used in order to depoliticise the occasion and ensured respect was paid to the lost on all sides.

Since then the Remembrance Day was relatively quietly observed over the years, until 17 May 2013 when Bougainville President, Chief Dr John Momis announced at the the 23rd anniversary of UDI that the date was to be gazetted as a public holiday.

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The following year, in the early hours of 17 May 2014, Bougainvilleans observed the 24th UDI in remembrance to the Bougainville Crisis fallen heroes.

A gun salute in the early hours was done in Arawa town and also other similar celebrations were held in Bel Isi Park in North Bougainville and also in Buin.

In South Nasioi constituency an occasion was held in Sianare village highlighted by a flag raising ceremony and other traditional dancers especially from the Kurai Primary School Students. The students had a chance to be informed about the significance of the event.

A speech from the Paramount chief of the community was delivered encouraging students to pursue education as a vital tool for future development in the region.

Today while we salute our fallen heroes and remember the lives lost, we also ought to teach Bougainville history to our children so that they don’t go off track.

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