Referendum leader wants the best for Bougainville

The Bougainville referendum will be successful only if the people fully understand it, says Ireland’s former prime minister, Bertie Ahern.

Ahern, who is the Bougainville Referendum Commission chairman, said that Bougainvilleans need to know what they are voting for.

“In a referendum everybody should know what a referendum is all about and what it means. Last thing I would like to do is to avoid misunderstanding of what the referendum is all about,” he said.

“I think we as a commission have to be crystal-clear not only in the referendum questions but in the process of asking because one thing I don’t want is to head back home and find out that the difficulty is starting .
“We have to explain clearly what the referendum is. Otherwise, I would feel I haven’t done a good job. And I don’t want to leave and learn in the media of what has happened after the referendum.

“We have to be clear on what the questions are going to be put to the people to vote on. That’s the only position that I am concerned with. I now look forward to do my best effort to solve the conflict on Bougainville.”

Ahern introduced himself to the national Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government during a joint supervisory body meeting at the Sir Manasupe Haus in Port Moresby

The National Executive Council appointed Ahern chairman of the Bouganville Referendum Commission.

The referendum is expected to take place on June15 next year.

Ahern said that he was the Irish prime minister three times and finance minister three times during his 20 years in Ireland’s national parliament. He also has vast experience in conflict management from events in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Ukraine and other areas.

Ahern will travel to Bougainville on Saturday to meet members of the ABG in Buka for two days. He will return to Port Moresby on Monday and leave for Singapore on Tuesday.

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