The constitution of Papua New Guinea reflects the provisions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement by providing that a referendum for Bougainvilleans on the future political status of Bougainville must be held, within the five year ‘window’, from June 2015 to June 2020. One option in the referendum must be a ‘separate independence’ for Bougainville. In 2016, the PNG national government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) jointly agreed on a ‘target’ date for the referendum of June 2019.
In 2018, the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, sent mixed signals about whether the referendum would be held or not. At the same time, however, a number of significant steps towards holding the referendum were made.
This seminar examines both the mixed signals emanating from the prime minister, and the progress towards holding the referendum, and assesses whether or not the referendum is likely to be held by the target date, or closer to the end of the five year window (June 2020) or whether it might be deferred beyond June 2020.