The Bougainville Referendum Commission has requested all parties to the referendum to cease campaigning and canvassing for votes from tonight midnight (Wednesday 20 November) until the start of the polling.
Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said a period of silence before polling was international good practice.
“A period of silence allows two days for people to be free of any campaigning, to consider the choices before them and reflect on the future of Bougainville before they vote,” Mauricio Claudio said.
“This is an historic vote and one that should be celebrated.”
“There has been a lot of information provided to people about both the process of voting and the options before them. Now is the time to reflect, whether it be in silence, in prayer or in quiet discussions with one another.”
The voluntary period of silence is part of the BRC’s Issuance on Canvassing, Broadcasting, Publications, Advertising, released to the public and the two governments on 11 September 2019.
The period starts at midnight on 20 November and ends 8.00am on 23 November, when polling commences in main urban centres and remote locations.
The BRC called on the community, the two governments and interest groups to observe the silence period.
The Issuance does not limit broadcast media from reporting on the referendum, or the BRC from continuing to provide information and updates to the voting public.
“What people can do now is to prepare themselves to vote, and find out where and when polling will be in their Ward, PNG Province, or overseas in Australia and Solomon Islands,” Mauricio Claudio said.
Elsewhere, the BRC will complete its accreditation of over 250 international and domestic observers on Thursday, together with over 650 scrutineers from the two governments and registered interest groups.
Polling teams for remote and overseas locations were preparing to soon depart Bougainville, as well as teams travelling to the 800 polling places in Bougainville. The BRC has confirmed that Bougainvilleans are being recruited to each polling team for all outside Bougainville polling.
The referendum is the first time polling has been offered to Bougainvilleans at every Ward, overseas and in every PNG province with enrolled Bougainvilleans.
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:
1. First name and surname
2. Constituency and ward in which they reside or claim clan lineage to
3. Date of birth, or at least year of birth