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More time needed to verify referendum roll, says official

July 10, 2019The NationalMain Stories, The National PNG

THE Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) needs some time to satisfactorily verify the referendum roll, says chairman Bertie Ahern.
He said in Arawa, Central Bougainville yesterday that any extension would not go past 2019.

Ahern said if the PNG and Autonomous Bougainville governments needed a successful referendum for Bougainville, they should decide on an extension to verify the roll.

The decision will come from the Joint Supervisory Body.

The BRC may need an extra six weeks to complete everything. The extension is for the verification of the referendum roll.

“We have been under considerable pressure in the last number of weeks,” Ahern said.

“I’ve made this point that I need some time. I can tell you this will be finished in 2019. And our decision will be made.

“But to do it the way people are asking me, I need time.”

Ahern said a contributing factor was the out-of-country registration and polling which was not initially in the plan.

“We were asked to do (enrol) people outside Bougainville, which was never my intention,” he said.

“But we were asked to do that in recent weeks. That’s going very well with Bougainvilleans happy with that. But it takes time.”

Commissioner Patrick Nisira said acting President Raymond Masono had written to Prime Minister James Marape to convene a special JSB meeting to discuss the extension issue to allow the verification of the roll.

It is not due to other factors such as weapons disposal.

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