Enrolment of Bougainvilleans living in Solomon Islands for the Bougainville Referendum starts tomorrow at the PNG High Commission offices, Honiara.
On Thursday a team from the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) arrived with enrolment forms for eligible Bougainvilleans for the upcoming Bougainville Referendum scheduled for 12 October.
The referendum is part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement signed between the National Government and Bougainville leaders in 2001, bringing an end to a decade of conflict. The choice to be put to Bougainvilleans is Greater Autonomy or Independence.
Enrolment in Honiara will take place Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday (5-6 July and 8-9 July), before the team departs for Gizo to open enrolment for Thursday to Saturday 11-13 July at a location to be confirmed.
On an interview with Radio Australia’s Tok Pisin program, BRC Commissioner Mr Patrick Nisira said the Commission was committed to providing for eligible Bougainvilleans have an opportunity to vote, whether they live in Bougainville, elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, and now Solomon Islands.”
“The Commission now calls on Bougainvilleans to make sure they attended enrolment for the short period of time as online or electronic enrolment is not available,” Mr Nisira said.
“People must enrol to be on the Referendum Roll to vote.” The voter eligibility criteria, established by the two governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville for non- resident Bougainvilleans, are:
- Have links to Bougainville either by birth, adoption, marriage, or clan
- Be born on or before 12 October 2001
- Are a PNG citizen, and
- Are entitled to vote in PNG National Elections
People must satisfy all criteria. People must be a PNG citizen and cannot be a dual citizen.
The decision of overseas enrolment in Honiara and Gizo (Solomon Islands), and Cairns and Brisbane (Australia) was made by the Bougainville Referendum Commission meeting with Chair Bertie Ahern on Friday 21 June, in response to the strong desire of Bougainvilleans living overseas to have their say in the referendum.
The Commission thanked the support from the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support in opening PNG High Commission offices in Honiara this Saturday 6 July, and forewarned that given the expected limited enrolments and resources available, only a few days would be available in each location.