Wednesday marked 100 days to the commencement of polling in the Bougainville Referendum.
Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said he was satisfied with the collaboration and progress being made by hundreds of officials across multiple locations.
“Referendum preparations continue apace, and we are on track to meet the dates established by the two governments: Issue of Writs on 27 September, start of polling on November 23,” Mr Claudio said.
“A referendum of this scale, that is, capturing the views of eligible Bougainvilleans living in the Autonomous Region, elsewhere in Papua New Guinea and four overseas location, is historic and something people can be proud of.”
“The conduct of the referendum is a team effort, and the Commission is grateful for the dedicated work of Community Governments and Ward Recorders, the PNG Electoral Commission, overseas diplomatic missions and the international donor community.”
Enrolment has demonstrated strong public demand; people want the opportunity to enroll and have their say.
“This level of engagement is welcome and positive, with groups that were previously disengaged now actively participating in the enrolment exercise. Pressure and requests for enrolment have outstripped those for previous
Bougainville regional and national elections,” Mr Claudio said.
With 100 days to go polling preparations are well underway. The ballot paper design has been approved and will soon be printed and made public, and preparations are being made for around 500 polling locations for Bougainville, each of the 21 PNG provinces and four remote locations, and in Gizo, Honiara, Brisbane and Cairns overseas.
The Chief Referendum Officer called on Bougainvilleans to remain active over the coming weeks, to check their name during the three-week public display of the preliminary roll.
“This is the last step of the enrolment exercise. For three weeks in September (10 days for locations outside Bougainville and overseas), people will have a final chance to check their names, enrol or correct if needed, and tell us if there are any problems with those also enrolled in their Ward,” Mr Claudio said. “The two governments have provided us all with an extra few weeks to make sure we have a higher quality roll – but we need public support to make this happen.”
This Saturday BRC Commissioner Manu will attend Bougainville celebrations in Kokopo to provide awareness, and in the coming weeks enrolment officers will be visiting Bougainville high schools to ensure all students turning 18 by the first day of polling have enrolled. Enrolment continues at the BRC’s three regional offices in Arawa, Buin and Buka until
the issue of the writ.