The presidential election in Papua New Guinea’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville was delayed by two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will now take place over a three week period from August 12 to September 1, with a result expected by mid-September.
Like the independence referendum that took place late last year, this long voting period is designed to allow people who live in remote locations every opportunity to be able to participate.
This will be the fifth presidential election to take place since 2005, after Bougainville was afforded significant autonomy in a peace agreement signed in 2000, following a decade-long civil war in PNG.
The result of the election will be vitally important not just to Bougainville and PNG, but the wider Melanesian and Pacific regions, as the newly elected president will be responsible for negotiations with Port Moresby to establish an independent state.
For Marape, honoring the result of the referendum has the potential to destabilize other parts of PNG. New Ireland, Enga, and East New Britain are all seeking greater autonomy from the central government. Marape will also need to factor in PNG’s relationship with Indonesia, as an independent Bougainville could create greater momentum for West Papua’s independence push.
South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu is set to sign a landmark agreement with helicopter company Manolos Aviation Ltd for the provision of medical evacuation services to his district.
The signing will pave way for the company to airlift emergency medical cases from anywhere in South Bougainville to Buka.
Masiu, who is also Minister for Information and Communication Technology, said the district Development authority and his office had the responsibility to ensure emergency healthcare and evacuation services were made available to his people, especially women and children.
Timothy Masiu has assured health workers at Buin health centre that he is determined to ensure it is upgraded to hospital status and staffed with specialist doctors. He said he would continue working to source funding and government support.