This is the first of three linked In Briefs about the record of Ishmael Toroama, elected President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (hereinafter Bougainville) in September 2020. Toroama is little known outside Bougainville. The limited publicly available information about him emphasises his roles as a prominent fighting leader, of fearsome reputation, with the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and as a BRA representative in the signing of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA). Since the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was established in mid-2005, he has often been discussed in Bougainville as being a ‘warlord’. These three In Briefs seek to address the gap in knowledge about him so that a more considered assessment can be made.
This first In Brief outlines Toroama’s origins and then his little-known but remarkably consistent record as a peacebuilder in Bougainville.