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Economy must be built before referendum held

By Winterford Toreas PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 29, 2010) - Bougainville is not yet ready to go for a referendum to decide its political future, according to Bougainville President Chief John Momis.

And he has warned that if Bougainville is not prepared to go for a referendum, it will be seen as a "failed state" or "banana republic."

Mr. Momis said though it is clearly stipulated in the Bougainville Agreement that Bougainville should go for a referendum between 10-15 years, with that time frame starting from the formation of the first House of Representatives, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

According to that timeframe Bougainville now only has five years left with the referendum scheduled to be held between 2015-2020.

One of the issues highlighted by the president that still needs to be immediately addressed is improving the capacity building for Bougainville.

Momis said capacity building is the first major issue that Bougainville needs to address before it can consider other outstanding issues.

However, he said this cannot be carried out at the moment due to lack of money to fund the exercise.

One of the contributing factors pertaining to lack of funding is because Bougainville has not been raising enough revenue.

Other areas pointed out by Momis that still need to be addressed are fiscal self reliance and weapons disposal.

On the issue of weapons disposal, Momis said if it is not adequately addressed, no investors will be willing to come and do business in Bougainville.

Meanwhile, Momis is appealing to Bougainvilleans to support the ABG Government.

"This government is not for Momis, it is the government for the people of Bougainville," he said.

"If you cannot support us then who will you listen to?"

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