Bougainville Special Correspondent
The Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s fragile peace and stability is very much under threat of being undone by the way in which its leadership is being headed. The handling of sensitive issues in the region by the current ABG house is seen as undoing the painstaking process put in by the people of the region to reconcile, most importantly amongst Bougainvilleans themselves.
What the region greatly needs at this time is sound, fair and representative leadership, critical components that are indeed lacking, causing much agitation amongst the population. The work of this current ABG caucus has in fact so far created much division and apprehension amongst Bougainvilleans.
It even came to the point where former BRA commanders had to peacefully confront the President at his office in Buka, to notify him of his government’s unrepresentative actions in handling the regions sensitive issues. They simply advised the president to resign.
In what can be described as a ‘copy-paste’ technique, the ABG and BCL have been stirring the North and South region to blame the crisis on the people of Central, in particular the people of Panguna, the same technique used by Papua New Guinea through the blockade to waver people’s support from the BRA.
This assertion is realistic as reports from very reliable sources indicate tension rising towards the people of Panguna by people from other parts of the island over recent talks of compensation to the people of Panguna by BCL. A well-known BRA commander has issued this threat and quote “Yupla ol Panguna kisim moni, yupla noken raun ples klia (You Panguna people when you receive your money, do not wonder around in the clear)”. This begs the question why the BCL beholden President is dodging the obvious fact of his involvement in the mining issue, and his continual denial that it is rather the people who are pushing for this.
It is becoming clear now that the ABG President is behind the work of causing tension amongst the people. He spoke well of the Panguna Landowners Association in their inaugural Landowners Forum in November last year, contrarily that was not the view he held of the Landowners Association when he was giving a speech in Buin.
And with this current government, the one thing that stands out is the drive towards reopening Panguna mine. An issue that is so sensitive, it not only affects the people of Panguna, but the entire region because of the catastrophic toll it has had (and continues to have) on the environment and lives of thousands that perished in the 10 year crisis.
Coupled with the mining issue are the continual allegations of widespread corruption and mismanagement within the current ABG house. Amongst all these, what is clear is it is the current government’s impartiality that is seriously under question. What comes out on mainstream news as being representative of the people is very much not what is on the ground in reality.
There are also reports coming from constituencies, Council of Elders (C.o.Es), clan chiefs, former combatants and ordinary Bougainvilleans being agitated by the operation of the current ABG. The description of misrepresentation, corruption and anti-independence is what can be gauged from most conversations.
Even so, the current spending spree from the president’s office before elections connotes a kind of intention contrary to service delivery. So far, many constituencies are crying foul over their local offices not receiving their ‘Toyota Land Cruiser’ gifts from ABG.
Hence, if there is any viability for the autonomous region’s highest office ability to be objective in any circumstance with how the leadership is handling the issues of concern, pertaining particularly to mining, compensation and the more serious rising apprehension and tensions among the different districts, the President Grand Chief Dr John Momis will really need to wake up out of his utter arrogance and take heed of redressing this issue before it turns physical.
Note: This article was written before news broke the ABG has passed the controversial and divisive new Mining Law which has further exacerbated and inflamed tensions on the island