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Buka, BOUGAINVILLE – September 1, 2020: 11:48am (RNZ PACIFIC): The Bougainville Government has declared August the 31st a public holiday, to mark the 19th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2001.

Despite the holiday today, as well as ongoing activities related to the ongoing local elections process and public restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic, all essential services such as health and policing are maintaining their normal duties.

According to New Dawn FM police were to mark the holiday this morning with a dawn service at Bel Isi Park in Buka.

The signing of the peace agreement let to the establishment four years later of the first autonomous government and then the independence referendum held in November last year.

That referendum produced overwhelming support for independence from Papua New Guinea, and in the words of the outgoing President, John Momis, the people of Bougainville are concerned with “the declaration of the birth of a new nation,” that they hope will result from negotiations over that result.

Independence deal the prime focus for new govt – Momis

Polling has been completed in elections for Bougainville’s regional parliament, with results yet to be announced.

With a new government expected to be in place by the middle of September, Momis said the first talks with the PNG government on the independence referendum are set for October.

Momis said it was clear from the elections that the people want the question of self-determination resolved once and for all.

He said it was critical that all negotiations were complete and an agreement reached before PNG’s national elections scheduled for 2022.

“It will then go to the national parliament for ratification and the signing of a treaty, and as far as the people of Bougainville are concerned that will be the birth, the declaration of the birth of a new nation,” he said.

“Then we can deal with issues of development, restoration of services, because under the current (PNG) regime these things are is not happening.”

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