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Bougainville Post-Referendum Planning Taskforce holds First meeting

Co-Chaired by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville Affairs, Hon. William Samb, and the Autonomous Bougainville Government Minister for Peace Agreement Implementation, Hon. Albert Punghau, and supported by officials from both governments, the purpose of the three day meeting was to commence discussions around the role of the Task force, its objectives, and, through scenario planning, howto potentially manage any upcoming challenges in a peaceful way.

“A key pathway for the referendum and post-referendum period to follow is: peace by peaceful means. To enable this, it is critical to better understand the steps and processes in the period following the referendum. This task force will help us identify and focus our work required, as part of the transition period, to ensure peace by peaceful means is achieved”, said Minister William Samb.

The Post-Referendum Planning Task force was established in June 2018 by the Joint Supervisory Body, with a view to ensuring peaceful acceptance of the results of the referendum and for developing an agreed plan that can be in place for the country to move together peacefully. Formed by members from both governments,the Task force will help define and guide the agreed provisions for the post-referendum process of consultations between the two governments to formulate a joint agreement that can be brought to the National Parliament.

“This is the first time political leaders and technical experts from both governments have sat together to start the planning process for the post referendum period, to map a peaceful way forward for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea and to have a peaceful and smooth outcome following the referendum”, underlined Minister Albert Punghau.

Gianluca Rampolla,the Resident Coordinator for the United Nations in Papua New Guinea, said that “around the world, the best practices show that sustaining peace requires inclusive dialogue to achieve agreed outcomes. PNG made history in 2018 with APEC, PNG will make history in 2019, through consensus, to determine the continuation of successful peace building in Bougainville”.

The meeting was supported by the UN Peace building Fund project “Sustaining Peace in Bougainville”, and facilitated by Dr. Christina Murray, of the United Nations Mediation Support Unit of the Departments of Political and Peace building Affairs and Peace Operations, and Ciaran O’Toole, Pacific Programme Director for Conciliation Resources. The PNG National Research Institute is also providing support to the Task force. The two delegations agreed to continue this consultative process in the coming months with a view to presenting a consolidated position on the way forward to the leadership of the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
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