The Bougainville Referendum Commission

Chair Bertie Ahern

Hon. Bertie Ahern is a former Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland (1997-2008), and a Member of the lower house of the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) for 34 years (1977-2011). Mr Ahern played a major role in securing peace in Northern Ireland and the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. In 2007 he became the first Taoiseach to address a joint session of the UK Parliament.

Mr Patilias Gamato

Mr Patilias Gamato is the Electoral Commissioner of Papua New Guinea (since 2015). As Electoral Commissioner, he co-chaired the BRC Transitional Committee. Mr. Gamato holds a Diploma in Public Administration (PNGIPA), Diploma in Management (TAFE, NSW), Bachelor in Business and Administration (UPNG), and Master’s in Strategic Management (UPNG).

Mr Robert Igara

Mr Robert Igara CMG. Mr Igara served as the Chief Secretary to the Government of Papua New Guinea 1997 – 2002. He has held several senior positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including diplomatic postings in Fiji and Australia. Mr Igara was a signatory to the Burnham Truce Agreement.

Mr George Manu

Mr George Manu was appointed Bougainville Electoral Commissioner in 2014 and is responsible for the conduct of ABG general elections, by-elections and Community Government elections. As Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, he also cochaired the BRC Transitional Committee. Mr Manu is currently leading preparations for the 2020 ABG elections.

Ms Ruby Mirinka

Mrs Ruby Mirinka is an experienced healthcare professional who provided humanitarian relief and community service during the crisis. Subsequently, she played a key role in peace negotiations between the governments of PNG and Bougainville, and was a signatory of the BPA representing the women of Bougainville. Mrs Mirinka holds a Master’s Degree in Management from Vudal University.

Mr Patrick Nisira

Mr Patrick Nisira supported negotiations in the Peace Agreement process. He was appointed Vice President of Bougainville in 2010 – 17, and held Ministerial portfolios for Works, Health, Police. Prior to resigning to contest the 2017 National Election, Mr Nisira was Minister for Peace, Referendum and Veterans’ Affairs.

Dr Thomas Webster

Dr Thomas Webster is a Professorial Research Fellow and Project Manager of Bougainville Research (and Team Leader of the Bougainville Referendum Research Project) at PNG National Research Institute (NRI). Dr Webster was formerly Director of NRI (2004-2015). He has a Doctor of Education degree from Bristol University, a Master in Education from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Education from UPNG.