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Bougainville referendum vote delay not a surprise – MP

Bougainville South MP Tim Masiu says a four month delay to the Bougainville referendum was not unexpected.

[audio_playhttps:// Listen to more on Dateline Pacific

Bougainville is due to hold a vote on whether to become fully independent of Papua New Guinea.

It was tentatively set for June 15th this year but has now been moved, with voting to start on 12 October.

Mr Masiu, who is also PNG’s deputy opposition leader, was at Friday’s Joint Supervisory Body meeting in Port Moresby when the decision was made.

He said the chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, told the meeting the update on the common roll was not going well.

“And there are still a lot of Bougainvilleans living outside of Bougainville and also in Bougainville who had not been registered. So in order for a majority of people to vote they needed to update the common roll. So that was one of the sticking issues.”

Tim Masiu said other factors include hold-ups in efforts to ensure the region is free of weapons, as well as issues with funding from the national government.

Meanwhile, the Post Courier reports that PNG’s government has committed to pay about 8.7 million US dollars to help Bougainville prepare for its independence referendum.

Friday’s meeting was told by Mr Ahern, that it needed 15.7 million US dollars to prepare for the vote.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that the government has now sent $US2.9 million with the same amount due to released next week and a further instalment later this year.

Source: RadioNZ

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