The Chair and the six Commissioners of the Bougainville Referendum Commission have given their blessing to voters, observers, scrutineers and media on the eve of the referendum.
The Chair, Mr Bertie Ahern congratulated the people and the two governments for fulfilling the third pillar of the peace agreement.
“We have arrived at the Bougainville referendum vote. We thank everyone for their participation – the two governments, the international community, interest groups – and especially the 206,731 people of Bougainville who got themselves enrolled to vote,” Mr Ahern said.
“Now is the time to go out, cast your vote. Now is the time to go out and observe. But we call on everyone to respect the process, enjoy the process and continue to observe this referendum as one more important step in the Bougainville peace process.”
On radio last night Commissioner Patrick Nisira addressed Bougainville listeners saying 94% of the voters and nearly 97% of the polling places were in Bougainville and would be observed by people from Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and overseas.
“As Bougainvilleans we should look out for each other, and look out for these visitors too. We all have a responsibility to pursue the peace process.”
“Our assessment from talking with Community Governments, with the police, with leaders, and with the community is that this will be a successful process. We are confident.”
Commissioner Thomas Webster reminded people to not try to influence other voters.
“These are the things that will negatively affect the credibility of the vote.The world is watching and a free and fair will be determined by the reports of observers, media and what scrutineers witness.”
“All voters can cast their vote knowing that their vote will be secret and secure. At the polling station, during the transport of ballot boxes and at the counting centre. This is the key to a credible vote – where voters vote freely and fairly.”
Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio repeated that only those enrolled on the referendum roll are allowed to vote.
“The law is clear. The process of enrolling to vote in the Referendum has finished. We have given people plenty of time – including the extension provided by the two governments to allow people to get enrolled. Bougainvilleans have never had three phases of enrolment including a public display of the preliminary roll at Ward level,” Mr Claudio said.
Polling opens in Arawa, Buka, Buin and Port Moresby as well as some remote locations. Most polling will begin Monday 25 November to Friday 29 November. Voters are advised to check their closest polling place using the SMS Service, their Ward officials or the BRC website.
Voters can check the polling schedule by mobile phone. To use the SMS Roll Check Service, people should text (+675) 7933 6628 or 7149 3920 with all the following information:
- First name and surname
- Constituency and ward in which they reside or claim clan lineage to
- Date of birth, or at least year of birth