SECRETARY POMALEU SIGNS ABG POST-REFERENDUM CONSULTATION PROJECT AGREEMENT

The Government of Papua New Guinea and the UN through its United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have co-signed an agreement to support the economic development work as part of the post-referendum activities to support lasting peace and long term political settlement process on the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG). 

Secretary to the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council, Ivan Pomaleu and UNDP’s PNG Representative, Dirk Wagener signed the project; Sustaining Peace through Economic Empowerment this week in Port Moresby. 

The project is an extension of the work the UN has played in the implementation process of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) leading up to the referendum and will continue to the post-referendum consultations between the two governments. 

Secretary Pomaleu said the project is designed to support the ongoing Bougainville peace building process and is funded by the Government of Japan worth $US 2, 842 181, which is equivalent to PGK 9, 788 850 and will be implemented by the UNDP. 

“It frames the support that the UN through UNDP can provide for the immediate post-referendum process, including provision of technical and logistical support to the two governments on capacity building, support on the ratification process, continued awareness to the people of Bougainville and PNG on the progress and inclusive opportunities that support meaningful participation. 

“The latter being a key part of ensuring that the agreed outcome of the consultations is accepted by the people of Bougainville and PNG alike,’’ he said. 

Secretary Pomaleu whilst signing the project framework agreement acknowledged the UNDP and said it has played an important role in the BPA process in the earliest days. 

“And this Sustaining Peace through Economic Empowerment’ project is a natural extension of the work and support the UNDP has provided the two governments in the preparation and the conduct of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum. 

“Considering the early stages of the preparation of the post-referendum preparations, the proposed approach maintains high flexibility to deploy resources where they will have maximum impact in moving the process forward and ensure activities are coordinated with other actors,’’ said Secretary Pomaleu. 

He further stated that as per the Bougainville Peace Agreement the outcomes of the referendum on Bougainville is non-binding, meaning the two governments will consult each other and the agreed outcome to be ratified by the National Parliament. 

“To ensure that the two governments were prepared for the post referendum period, the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB); the body that oversees the implementation of the BPA, established a Post Referendum Planning Task Force in June 2018 and it has held planning preparation meetings for the post-referendum process and has met on eight occasions in 2019 with representation from the two governments. 

“The meetings were supported by the UN through UNDP and the London based international Non-Governmental Organization Conciliation Resources. Therefore, the UN now continues this support through the project,’’ he said. 

Secretary Pomaleu said that amongst other things the Task Force has been able to provide guidance to the two governments on the immediate post-referendum processes. Part of that work includes supporting the commencement of the consultation process, which the Prime Minister and the President has announced to commence on the week beginning 17 May 2021, as well as supporting the chairmanship arrangement and the input of a moderator. It also includes planning and executing an Economic Summit for ABG, which was announced at the end of the JSB meeting in Arawa on 05 February 2021 in Arawa. 

The Secretary said that the Minister for Bougainville Affairs and Minister for Post-Referendum Dialogue and Consultation have indicated that the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government welcome the international community to extend its current support for the referendum into the post-referendum period. It allows work to be done at the economic empowerment level to address co-business and investments for the people in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. 

Secretary Pomaleu said these post-referendum consultation preparations give momentum to the Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape’s statement when the results of the referendum were presented to the Governor-General that National Government heard the voice of Bougainvilleans, and the two governments must now develop a roadmap that leads to lasting political settlement.