Posts Categorized: Bougainville Peace Agreement

Panguna ex-combatant hands over weapon for peace

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Albert Nekinu (pictured right), a former ex-combatant from Barako Village of the Panguna District, willingly surrendered his gun to the local police after he was touched by the Bougainville peace awareness of an auxiliary police officer Junior Taneavi (pictured left).

The young Nekinu joined the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) late in 1994, thus did not see much action with the dawning peace process. But he had a .308 mm WW2 US infantry rifle which he obtained in the Torokina ammunition dumps.

“I had the rifle to fight,” Mr Nekinu said, “but then our leaders talking about peace, thus I did not have much opportunity to go into action against the enemy.”

“But now that we are in peace, as an ordinary serviceman in the BRA, I feel sad when our leaders in the BRA who may have had a voice in the creation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) are still holding onto guns.

“Peace is what our people need to move Bougainville forward to independence,” Mr Nekinu continued.

“We want a weapon free Bougainville where everybody is free as it was embedded in the BPA.”

One auxiliary police officer, Junior Taneavi, is singlehandedly spearheading peace awareness in the Tumpusiong Valley area of the Panguna District.

Taneavi was catalytic to the surrender of the weapon and said that people should work towards a better peaceful Panguna District.

“Panguna District is where the crisis erupted from and so it is our business to get working,” Mr Taneavi said.

“Every combatant in the district, be they from the Meekamui or any other faction, must honour the BPA for it is here we are seeing change and services for us and the people.

“We cannot go elsewhere,” he continued, “the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) is the government we are eating from and nobody else.

“Thus we all have to uphold the BPA and move with it just like our young man Albert Nekinu.”

Mr Nekinu admitted that after listening to all the Officer Taneavi’s words of peace building on Bougainville he felt really guilty seeing that normalcy for Bougainville can only come through the way ABG is moving with in accordance to the BPA so he went home took his weapon and handed it over.

Junior Taneavi then brought the weapon to Officer Peter Tauna (pictured middle with Chief Michael Pariu) who is responsible for policing in the Panguna District.

On Monday 2 August 2016, the weapon was locked away under Bougainville Police Service custody.

 

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The evolution of the Bougainville Peace Building Program

By Eleanor Maineke

684-bpbp-interim-meeting The BPBP Interim Governing Council Members during the 1st Council Meeting on the 28th of September 2015 at the Lumankoa Conference Room in Buka.

The Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) is a partnership program between the Australian’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

BPBP is funded through DFAT’s program Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) and was enacted in November 2011 through a Bougainville Executive Council policy decision.

BPBP is currently operating out of its office located in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

BPBP, which currently operates out of an office located in Arawa, started as Panguna Peace Building Strategy in the year 2011 in Panguna district. It was focused in Panguna area because of the fact that Panguna was the epicentre of the Bougainville Crisis and was under the SPSN’s small grant projects.

As time went on PPBS stretched out to other districts of Bougainville to cater for all the districts especially in regard to outstanding crisis cases. Thus the PPBS was changed to BPBP in 2014 and was witnessed by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Julie Bishop MP, who was present at the Arawa Coordinating Office of Bougainville Peace Building Program.

During the time when the program was concentrated in the Panguna area, the governing body was called the Panguna Joint Supervisory Committee (PJSC) and was the decision making body for the project. The Committee consisted of the key stakeholders especially the Meekamui, Women’s representatives and the ex-combatants of the Panguna area and the then Mining Minister, Michael Oni, was the Co-Chairman of the Governing Council.

After the 3rd House of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville was elected, the Interim Governing Council of BPBP had their first meeting on the 28th of September 2015 at the Lumankoa Conference Room in Buka Island.

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Referendum committee visits Port Moresby students

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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The Bougainville Referendum Committee has made time to visit tertiary students in Port Moresby, while they were in the Papua New Guinea capital for discussions with the National Government.

The committee, under the leadership of chairman Hon. Joseph Watawi, participated in the two day session and then made time to visit Pacific Adventist University (PAU) students.

The students were honoured to host Hon. Joseph Watawi MP (member for Selau), Mr. Thomas Tari (South Bougainville former combatant representative), Ms. Marceline Kokiai (Central Bougainville Women’s representative), Mr. Dominic Itta (member for Kongara) and two officers from the Bougainville House of Representatives.

The main purpose of their visit is to gather information and opinions from the students regarding the referendum on independence in Bougainville in the coming years. The students kicked off formal proceedings with welcome speeches by PAU Bougainville Students Union president, Fabien Epota, and students’ representative, Benjamin Heriberth Noibio, with closing remarks provided by Jonathan Bataru.666-pacific-adventist-referendum-committee

The parliamentarians then presented speeches emphasizing the current stand of Bougainville and what needs to be done prior to the referendum.

“Referendum on Bougainville is on our hands, we will not get Referendum on a golden plate, we have to work towards it; referendum is currently like a huge parcel that we really need to unwrap it, said Hon. Joseph Watawi.

The team is working on setting a date and minimum age that will be able to vote in the referendum. They are putting their blood, sweat and tears in attempting to resolve the questions that remainin.

“Referendum is not a stand-alone thing, we need to unify with each other,” Ms. Marceline Kokiai said.

The big question on the students’ minds was ‘what if we don’t get a referendum?’ and the same question was also raised by the students at University of Papua New Guinea when the team visited  the previous week. The committee said that are working on the practical questions at this stage. Many such questions are good because they encourages a lot and can be used as guide lines while working towards the ultimate goal.

There is a need to raise awareness of the realities of the Bougainville crisis, the peace agreement and the upcoming referendum. The nature of the referendum must be clear to the people so that they will be in a better position to make their decision when the time comes.

As far as the awareness is concerned, the tertiary students must be involved in assiting deep into their various families and communities. It is now our time to educate the ones in rural areas about the referendum, autonomy, independence and weapons disposal. The referendum team was satisfied and students were encouraged to help disseminate information.

“We the students have learned a lot, even though this is on short notice to many of us,” Mr. Epota said.

“We are the future leaders of Bougainville and we must be aware of our current statues.”

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Panguna to be weapons-free zone as President pushes for unity

By Anthony Kaybing

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ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis has singled out unity as the key to the successful holding of a referendum on independence.

President Momis said that for Bougainville to progress towards to self-determination and eventual independence, should it choose that road, it must move to uniting all Bougainvilleans.

“My department is planning a region-wide patrol for this Government to visit all districts to sit and discuss government policies and programs, but more importantly to hear what our communities are saying,” the President said.

“Sometimes our communities cry foul on us merely because we have not given them the opportunity to be heard and to participate.

“We need to take heed of the adage ‘divided we fall, united we stand’,” President Momis cautioned.

645-parliament-sittingThe President said the greatest threat to a progressive and vibrant Bougainville is for the people of Bougainville to remain polarized between different groupings such as Mekamui, Kingdom of Papala, Ex-Combatants and more.

“My appeal is for the people of Bougainville to come under the legally constituted entity – ABG,” the President said.

A positive way forward has been the pledge by Mekamui Government leaders from Panguna who have taken the initiative to start the realignment process with the ABG.

The event held in Panguna on 24 September 2015 saw a declaration by Meekamui strongman Moses Pipiro that Panguna will be a weapons-free zone, in which all weapons will be collected and locked away.

“I would like to congratulate the leaders from Panguna and Mekamui, Philip Miriori and Deputy Philip Takaung for taking the creative initiative for them to join the ABG and the rest of Bougainville in preparing our people for the referendum,” President Momis said.

President Momis also extended his congratulations to the Vice President and Minister Patrick Nisira and his Departmental Secretary Mr James Tanis of the Department of Peace Building and Referendum for working with the Mekamui to make this happen.

The President made a further call on other factions of the Mekamui, the Konnou Group and U-Vistract Group to take the same decision and join the ABG.

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Peace building workshop sets sights on reconciliations

By Ishmael Palipal

627-peacebuilding-workshop-kieta Participants of the workshop in Tunuru during discussion session. Picture: Ben Kinah

A three day workshop was held at the Tunuru Parish near Arawa town to address the outstanding reconciliations in the Kieta District of Central Bougainville.

The workshop, which was aimed at the identification, planning and costing of outstanding reconciliation cases in the district, was facilitated by the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) team.

A total of 15 people participated in the workshop with representation from the respective Councils of Elders (COE), ex-combatants, women’s representatives, youth leaders and also representative from the Wakunai district.

Board members for Kominiti Empowerment Development Services (KEDs) and representatives from North Nasioi, South Nasioi, Kokoda, Kongara 1 and 2 CoEs were all present at the workshop.

The workshop covered the very important agendas on appointment of Kieta District Peace and Security Committee (DPSC), which is comprised of the Kieta stakeholders, and an elected Secretariat, which includes a chairperson, vice chairperson, the secretary, assistant secretary and the treasurer.

John Donna, formerly chairman of KEDs, has been elected as the Chairman of the Kieta DPSC and the Vice Chairperson elected is the women’s representative from South Nasioi, Ismenia Ketsin. Ms Ketsin was also recently appointed as the alternative women’s board representative from Central Bougainville at the Bougainville Education Board in Buka and was an adept participant of the recent Joint Statement presentation workshop.

 

627-peacebuilding-workshop-donna From left to right are Mr Paul Matera, Mr John Donna and Ms Pauline Manau during the workshop at Tunuru. Picture: Ben Kinah

Meanwhile, the participants of the workshop commented that with the BPBP Team enriched them with learning on the practical application of the good governance and leadership strategies, the appointment of the 15 Member Kieta DPSC and the election of the DPSC Secretariat.

The lessons learnt at the workshop will be applicable in strengthening governance and leadership to address the issues of reconciliation in Kieta District, Central Bougainville and throughout the region as a whole.

Through such occasions, new networks and linkages are established and strengthened within targeted community groups with facilitation from organisations such as the Bougainville Peace Building Program.

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Bougainville stakeholders attend UN workshop

By Ancitha Motsi Semoso

Last month officers in the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) were invited to attend a one day workshop on the implementation of three key projects through the United Nations Peace Building Fund.

Ms Julie Bukikun from the United Nations Development Programme was the main presenter at the workshop, which was held at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby on the 16th of July 2015.

The UN Peace Building Fund is a catalytic fund that government agencies should now not regard as a normal programme funding. This means that the UN secretariat will support the Joint Steering Committee and its technical committee to ensure that there is effective coordination of the funding, monitoring and reporting thus evaluation and proper communication on the achievement of the priority plan results and projects that the funding is intended for.

The Peace Building Fund for PNG and Bougainville this year is $800,000USD which the UN system in PNG has divided according to the priority plans of Bougainville this year.

One project mentioned by Ms Bukikun in her presentation was the strengthening partnerships and political dialogue between GoPNG and ABG.

The outcome of this is for the key Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) provisions on autonomy arrangements and on the referendum to be progressed through joint decisions and actions of the PNG Government and the ABG.

Another objective is for the National and the Bougainville Parliaments to have a shared understanding of the BPA and the referendum provisions and the Bougainville Parliament fulfils the good governance criteria of the BPA, in line with the 2013 Autonomy Review findings that normally take place every after 3 years.

Another project is the support for knowledge-building and understanding of the Bougainville Peace Agreement which is the main concern of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville today, as many people have their own interpretation of the BPA which differs from its intention. The third project is the promotion of security and social cohesion in Bougainville as a means to strengthen society through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma effectively and resolution resolutions of local disputes peacefully, as well as through better access to information to access appropriate post-conflict support and services.

Bougainville is progressing through a narrow timeframe on crucial issues, such as the drawdown of powers and functions, which will determined whether Bougainville is ready to run its own affairs.

ABG Chief Secretary Mr Monovi Amani, who was one among the other ABG officers that attended the meeting, advised the ABG officers and other stakeholders (including the National Coordinating Office for Bougainville Affairs) to take ownership of these projects and implement it as expected by the aid donors for the betterment of the ABG political statues.

The next step as stated during the presentation is the signing of the project document which has been done after the meeting, the drawdown of funds, work plans for the project and the implementation plans.

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Torokina can fulfil tourism potential after weapons disposal

By Timothy Poroda

Torokina is located on the weste coast of the main island of Bougainville and has great tourism potential due to its great beauty and historical value.

Many World War II relics remain in the area, which had previously been a base for the American forces. As a result a number of WWII weapons and munitions were left behind when the war ended.

In 2014 a joint programme was conducted which engaged Australian Defence Force personnel who were deployed on the island to conduct an operation of dismantling live munitions in the area, addressing an issue of safety for the local people and weapons disposal under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

As many people in the region rely on farming for their survival, the threat of live WWII munitions hindered their day-to-day livelihoods in Torokina.

Following on from the programme conducted last year, the people of Torokina are looking forwards and are keen to establish a museum for the WWII relics to safely store and display artefacts.

This will help the community be safety-conscious and also, with the potential of bringing more tourists to the area, it could one day help locals venture into small scale business and eventually help boost the economy of the region.

Torokina, though one of the most remote areas of the autonomous region, is one of the Bougainville’s icons in terms of tourism industry.

The geographical location it provides what tourists are expecting to venture into.  The area can be reached by a three to four hour boat ride from Buka and is also accessible by the famous Numanuma track.

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Australia’s development contribution on the rise

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Koromira Primary School.

Bougainville has received increased funding support from Australia over the past five years according to a recent report from the Australian High Commission.

The report, Highlights of Australia’s development assistance to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, states that Australian assistance in 2013-14 reached nearly K100 million, having increased each year since 2009.

The funding provided to the autonomous region went towards the key areas of health, law & justice, governance and transport infrastructure.

Among the improvements in healthcare were new clinics, which were built in Buka, Arawa and Buin, and the provision of medical kits across the region. These medical kits contain essential supplies and were provided to 32 health centres, 162 aid posts and the Buka General Hospital.

Australia has committed to help Bougainville’s education system by reducing class sizes and improving the learning environment. Between 2012 and 2014, twenty primary schools benefited from the construction of a double classroom, teacher’s house, office and an ablution block.

These schools were located at Lemanmanu, Hahela, Ubuko, Kunua, Sohano, Iaun, Tekoknih, Koromira, Sipatako, Peter Lahis (Arawa urban), Tupukas, Wakunai, Asitavi, Kongara, Tabago, Iruh, Ugubakogu, Laguai and Tonu.

Law and justice is vital in Bougainville as a post-crisis region and Australian assistance has seen the construction and refurbishment of a number of police stations, court houses and centres for justice around the region.

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President says peace agreement conditions can be met before 2020

By Anthony Kaybing

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The President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has said tha the conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) can and will be met by Bougainville within the next five years as a prelude to its referendum.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Grand Chief Dr John Momis, made the statement in reference to Bougainville’s referendum on independence and autonomy, which must be held between 2015 and 2020 as set out in the BPA.

The conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement are good governance, fiscal self-reliance and weapons disposal.

“We must not fear, we must have faith in each other and ultimately, of course, we must have faith in God to give us the wisdom and strength to prevail,” President Momis said.

“We have now reached a critical juncture on our journey to freedom, where we stand at the threshold of a new socio-economic, political and spiritual order.”

He added that this new future means Bougainvilleans will want to be liberated from structural impediments, from institutional impediments and become agents of change and development.

“We know for a fact for example that the people of Bougainville for a long time have always seen themselves as a people set apart from the rest of PNG,” the President continued.

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United Nations team reports on referendum issues

By Leonard Fong Roka

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A United Nations team from New York presented on the Bougainville referendum Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) to Papua New Guinea Chief Secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, at Morata House in Port Moresby on 13 February 2015.

The NAM presentation outlined the findings from the team’s one week tour of Bougainville and was also attended by Acting CEO of the Bougainville’s Referendum Office, Mr Chris Siriosi, and Bougainville Acting Electoral Commissioner, Mr George Manu.

The UN team specialises in post-crisis referendum issues and was led on their PNG tour by Hemansu-Roy Trivedy, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator.

The team summarised that the Bougainville referendum was not bogged with serious problems on the ground but needs harmonious leadership from Bougainville and PNG, which is keen to address the people’s problems once and for all.

A key area that requires improvement is the identification of eligible voters and the options to be voted on at the referendum ballot.

The team said that the United Nations will support Bougainville in its referendum process.

The Government of PNG, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Referendum Office must now work seriously to establish an independent authority to deal with the referendum.

According to the team, the UN will now prepare for involvement with the 2015 ABG General Election after an earlier request for assistance from both the national and Bougainville governments.

Mr Chris Siriosi told the meeting that Bougainville had now to get facts related to the coming referendum and dispatch them to people across Bougainville.

“The Bougainville government’s task, through the referendum office, is now to get educational facts of the issue of referendum and bring them to the people so that they know the seriousness of the issue,” Mr Siriosi said.

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