Anthony Kaybing | New Dawn
Demands by the ex-combatants for Autonomous Bougainville Government President Chief Dr John Momis to resign has been deemed as undemocratic.
President Momis said that though the ex-combatants, led by former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commanders, Ishmael Toroama, Sam Kauona and Thomas Tari could voice their concerns on the government’s priorities on development, demanding his resignation without due cause cannot justify their demand.
This ultimatum was issued through a letter to the President questioning his ability to act in the best interest of Bougainville while outlining certain ABG ventures that it deemed were an utter failure and that if answers provided by President as unsatisfactory would warrant his removal from the Presidency.
“The ABG has already explained the dealings questioned by the ex-combatants clearly and concisely so what is the criteria that warrants me to resign as President,” President Momis said.
“As the democratically elected leader of Bougainville what criteria justifies their demands for me to resign, without properly assessing the government’s development priorities before leveling accusations against me as head of the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” the President added.
President Momis declared that his government has done more in terms of development of infrastructure and policies in Bougainville than the last government.
He said though there were constraints within the Public Service and the ABG’s financial capacity the government had done all it can to strengthen Bougainville’s drive to reckoning its political destiny through and through.
The President’s sentiments are evident through the stability within the government and its development capacity during the last five years of the Momis Administration.
In the last 5 years of President Momis’ tenure as ABG President there has been an improvement in relations with the National Government with the President negotiating the K500 million Special Intervention Fund from the Somare Government, rescoping the ABG’s priorities on Mining and initiating important legislations.
With the ABG elections looming the President said if they really desired a change in the leadership in Bougainville then he encouraged them to partake in the elections where he said offers a level play ground for them all.
“The people will then decide on who they want as their leaders to lead Bougainville,” President Momis said.
Ex Coms Debate
The Autonomous Bougainville Government faced off with former combatants in a civil debate on issues pertaining to Bougainville’s stability at the Bel Isi Park in Buka Town on Friday.
The ex-combatants were led by former Bougainville Revolutionary Army strongmen, Ishmael Toroama, Sam Kauona and Thomas Tari who were dissatisfied with the ABG’s current development priorities.
In letter to ABG President Chief Dr John Momis the ex-combatants raised concerns on the replacement of the ABG’s Acting Chief Secretary, Chris Siriosi, the ABG’s involvement with the Torokina Oil Palm Project, the benefit sharing arrangement of the Bougainville Flagship MV Chebu and government ministers owning shares in POGE Bougainville Development.
President Momis who bore the brunt of these accusations down played them and explained that there was no foul play on the government’s part as they followed every legal procedure to develop these projects.
“There was a need for a change in the Bougainville Administration in particular the Bougainville Public Service,” President Momis said.
“The appointment of the new Chief Secretary was done by an independent body, as is stipulated in the Bougainville Constitution, that was free from political influence,” the President said.
On the matter of the Torokina Oil Palm Project that was deemed to be failure by the combatants, President Momis again explained that the project was still ongoing and was proving to be a success in the light that progress on its development though slow was moving with certainty.
The President also explained MV Chebu’s benefit sharing arrangement, where Hakau Limited and the ABG owned 50 percent of the management company Chebu Shipping Company Ltd.
“Hakau Ltd is managing the company as past experience has shown that we could not properly manage previous vessels owned by the government simply because we lack the capacity to do so,” he explained.
President Momis then finally explained the reason behind ABG Ministers owning shares in Bougainville POGE Development were in fact as trustees only and that these shares were already transferred to the Bougainville Public Investment Company, the ABG’s business arm.
The 50 percent stake of the ABG in MV Chebu will also be transferred to the holding company that will take care of all the government’s business ventures.
A panel led by Bougainville Catholic Diocese Bishop Bernard Unabali said the points raised by the ex combatants and the ABG would be analyzed to address them.