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Unanimous Support From House For Bougainville

UNANIMOUS SUPPORT FROM HOUSE FOR BOUGAINVILLE

PORT MORESBY (Pasifik Nius): Bougainville is closer to having an autonomous government with Parliament’s unanimous support in two separate votes yesterday, the Post-Courier reports.

The Organic Law on peace-building in Bougainville — autonomous Bougainville Government and Bougainville Referendum, was passed by a unanimous majority of 85 votes.

The constitutional amendment was passed by 86 votes with Alotau MP Iairo Lasaro making the additional difference.

The second vote that will endorse the bills as law will need to be held after two months — on or about March 23.

Debate and votes on the bills were conducted in front of a packed Gallery, including a strong contingent of Bougainvilleans - leaders, women and children.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Moi Avei set the pace by highlighting the bipartisan-ness of the Bougainville Peace Process with leadership by former Prime Minister Bill Skate and then current Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

Sir Moi also highlighted the joint negotiations for almost three years between the pan-Bougainville leadership and parliamentary team, resulting in the agreement that gave rise to the bills.

He said the key provisions include Bougainville autonomy and details of the guaranteed, conditional referendum among Bougainvilleans on the island province’s future political status. This referendum, to be held between 10 and 15 years after the establishment of the autonomous Bougainville government, is conditional to Parliament endorsement, as independence would be an option.

Kokopo MP Sir Rabbie Namaliu admitted that his then (1990) government “undoubtedly made mistakes” in handling the rebellion but was proud of their ability to restore the economy with establishment of four major projects to restore the economy.

He supported the “State Government system” for Bougainville and said that the provincial government system had had failed and with it the community government system. He said that this was one of the reasons why PNG has so many problems in the communities.

Agriculture Minister Simeon Wai, using his Parliamentary Leadership of Pan Melanesia Congress, said that his party would support independence for Bougainville as part of a wider picture of autonomous Melanesia countries similar to the European Union if they were in a position of power.

Following Bougainville Governor John Momis’ comments, Leader of Government Business Vincent Auali moved for the bills to be put to the vote.

The proposed Organic Law was passed unanimously with 85 Votes including the Acting Speaker Sir Tom Koraea’s. The Constitutional Amendment had to go in-committee for a minor amendment on firearms provisions where the National Government holds powers to issue firearms.

This was debated by Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai and Mining Minister Roy Yaki before it was voted on and passed unanimously by 86 MPs.

Parliament adjourned to 10am today.

+++niuswire

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