Bougainville Bishop says Church neutral on independence


In June next year, Bougainville will be voting to decide if it is to become independent from Papua New Guinea.

The bishop of Bougainville, Bernard Unabali, says the church will support whatever the outcome would be – independence or autonomy.

He said this when preaching at Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral at Hahela in Buka last Sunday.

“We’ll not tell you to vote for independence or vote for autonomy.

“We’ll only support whatever the outcome is – independence or autonomy,” he told the congregation.

He said he would not let the church become involved in politics, and wanted to see a clear line of demarcation between it and the government.

“The church should keep a fair distance from politics and only engage in the spiritual aspects.”

Unabali said a peaceful post-referendum transition period was crucial.

Some of the spiritual events to take place before the referendum are reconciliation by clans at the village level.

A region-wide prayer vigil, would be held on the 14th of June, 2019 – just a day before the vote takes place.

The referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea next year will be conducted under the terms of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The Bougainville Department of Peace Agreement Implementation is touring PNG’s main centres to make people aware of the upcoming vote and their right to have their say.

The department head, former Bougainville president James Tanis, said they wanted to encourage people to participate and to ensure they were enrolled in time.

“The Peace Agreement already says that they need to participate in the referendum, but what we are working on is a process through which we can confirm their eligibility.

“There are a lot of Bougainvilleans outside Bougainville. We are trying to establish contact with them.”


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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