Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President, Ishmael Toroama have held informal discussions in Port Moresby today. 

They discussed matters concerning the formal consultations that will take place between the National Government and the ABG, which include the Joint Technical Team and Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meetings later in the year. 

It was to re-engage after the follow-up process as agreed to at the February 2021 JSB Meeting in Arawa was delayed regrettably following the death of the Founding Prime Minister, the Late Grand Chief Hon. Sir Michael Somare and the onset of COVID19. 

The two leaders’ discussions focused on the consultations, which will form a huge chunk of work as the two sides begin to go through the important part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) during the post referendum period. 

PM Marape said establishing a consultation framework is critical to the success of the future consultations between the two governments. 

“It must be agreed to before the commencement of the process and it is understood that a Post Referendum Consultation Package, which comprises resources to facilitate political dialogue, sustain the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) and otherwise, guide consultation teams, which were endorsed by the then ABG Minister Sir Puka Temu and ABG’s Albert Punghau. 

“It is also critical that each side understands the composition of the teams that will interphase and the mandates that they bring to the table to guide the two governments on the consultation processes,” said PM Marape. 

The Prime Minister said they also discussed issues on the appointment of a Moderator and at this stage Mr Bertie Ahern remains both governments appointee as he was involved in the ABG Referendum Commission. 

PM Marape said that the role of the UN is critical to achieving the post referendum processes and outcomes as desired to by both sides and that the UN remains willing to undertake this role adding that the UN will chair the consultation process. 

“President Toroama and I have firmed up that the Joint Technical Team and the National Technical and Bougainville Technical Team must hold their separate planning consultations before the next JSB meeting proper this year. 

“It is anticipated that the National Technical Team and the Bougainville Technical Team will meet separately on the week beginning 3 May 2021 to deal with the outcome of the consultations between the two leaders and also follow up to the JSB and the possible dates for the consultations to begin. 

“’Following the separate technical team meetings, we should then have the Joint Technical Team to convene in Port Moresby during the week beginning May 10 2021. The main agenda is to plan the consultation meeting and also to determine the details of the next JSB after the first consultation meeting,” he said. 

PM Marape said the normal process is to have a JSB after the JTT but on this occasion, it would be important that when the JSB next meet, it must process the outcome of the consultation meeting to allow for leaders to receive, determine and give directions to the consultation process if necessary. 

“If the framework for the consultation is agreed to, the moderator and the chair is confirmed, then a date for the consultation can be agreed to. Following the assembly and briefing of the consultation team, and the organization and planning of the event, then an initial consultation meeting should be hosted at a place and time to be agreed to. 

“The first consultation to kick-start the post referendum consultation process will be held on the week beginning 17 May 2021 at a venue to be confirmed. 

“It allows both sides to be briefed on the matters and agenda at hand and for them to determine the next course of action,” the Prime Minister said. 

PM Marape also said a letter has been sent to the Governor of Enga, Sir Peter Ipatas on April 12th 2021 advising him of the decision to convene the next JSB meeting in Wabag in Enga Province on a date to be agreed following the first consultation. 

The Department of Prime Minister & NEC and NCOBA will facilitate funds to support the Enga Provincial Government to host the JSB at a date to be agreed to.