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On 1st July 2021, DPA hosted a seminar on the post-referendum consultations between the PNG and Bougainville governments.
DPA Fellow Anthony Regan shared an update on what has happened so far after the November-December 2019 Bougainville Referendum, in which 97.7% of those voting - an 87.4% turnout based on an accurate roll of voters – voted for independence. The Bougainville Peace Agreement and the provisions of the PNG Constitution require the PNG National Government to ‘consult’ the Autonomous Bougainville Government on the results of the referendum, with the PNG national Parliament retaining ultimate authority to decide on the outcome following those consultations. At the first consultation in May, Bougainville President, Ishmael Toroama, put Bougainville’s position that the referendum result had to be honoured by PNG, and Bougainville aimed for full independence and UN membership by 2025. Anthony’s presentation also discussed:
- what is required under the duty to consult;
- the reasons for and consequences of the long delay in initiating the consultative process, beginning only in May;
- engagement between the two governments prior to the actual post-referendum consultation beginning
- the beginnings of the consultation process in May 2021 and the ‘architecture’ of the consultation processes, inclusive of the resources available on both sides;
- the initial positions of the two governments;
- the second round of consultation (Wabag, 30 June);
- international community facilitation of the consultation process; and
- major issues likely to arise in the consultation process.