Downer: Bougainville Elections
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia
FA68 - 20 May
I warmly welcome the start of voting today in elections for the establishment of autonomous government on Bougainville.
The elections are a momentous event in the long process of establishing and consolidating a permanent peace on Bougainville.
I would like to congratulate the Government of Papua New Guinea, Bougainvillean leaders and the people of Bougainville on the progress they have made to date and, in particular, on the preparations for the elections.
A large number of Bougainvilleans, more than 130,000, have registered to vote. This is a clear vote of confidence in the peace process.
Australia, together with New Zealand, has provided strong support for the peace process since it began in 1997.
The Australian Government has provided substantial assistance to the preparations for the elections.
I am pleased to announce that my parliamentary colleague, Mr Andrew Laming MP, Member for Bowman, is participating in a United Nations-coordinated, election observer mission on Bougainville. Two other Australians are also included in the observer mission.
As the Bougainvilleans begin voting today, I would like to assure them of the Australian Government’s continued strong commitment to helping to ensure lasting peace and development on Bougainville.