Chief Referendum Officer (CRO) Mauricio Claudio last night launched BRC’s polling awareness video to Bougainvilleans living in Port Moresby.
Over 100 people attended the event for a formal referendum briefing, video screening, and question and answer session.
Chair of the Bougainville Association, Mr Paul Nerau, said he was impressed at preparations and the information received. “CRO, your team has achieved a lot and we are grateful. We also realise that there is a lot more work to be done after the referendum. We know we must take these issues forward ourselves.”
Mr Claudio said it had been an immense honour and privilege to work on the referendum.
“There are still challenges ahead, but I encourage you all to be optimistic and joyous. The Bougainville Peace Agreement has been a success, and both options present something new for Bougainville.”
Key issues for voters were the need for more information – particularly on greater autonomy (which has now been provided by the two governments), the process after referendum, and the need for all parts of the referendum process to be beyond question.
“BRC has the funds, resources and people to conduct the Bougainville referendum. And voters are well versed in the technical aspects of voting. But rightfully, they are looking for assurance that every step is being conducted according to laws, so that the result is not challenged,” Mr Claudio said after the event.
“BRC absolutely follows the laws, and the decisions of the two governments. We are not for either option, and we are not for either government. We will do our part to ensure the safety, secrecy and security of each step so the final result is seen as a credible one that all parties trust and respect,” Mr Claudio said.
“This includes checking and double checking that all ballot papers are verified and in order before mixing, scrutiny and counting.”
“Every step of the referendum is following international best practice – and the process will ensure both voter secrecy, as well as being open and transparent for the judgement of scrutineers provided by interest groups, the two governments, local and international observers, and the media, as to whether the referendum was free and fair.”
The polling schedule is currently online, and the roll is soon to be finalised and available for checking via the same SMS roll check system used for the preliminary roll.
“The BRC has raised the bar as we know expectations for inclusion and transparency of the Bougainville referendum are high,” Mr Claudio said.