20 Jan 2011

Akoitai doubts Bougainville's independence path

6:16 pm on 20 January 2011

A former Bougainville affairs and mining minister, Sam Akoitai, says the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will not become independent from Papua New Guinea in 2015 because of the slow progress on work towards staging a referendum.

Mr Akoitai has told the newspaper, The National, that in-fighting between the regional member and the president will also take its toll on the agreed timetable of 2015.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement - signed 10 years ago - contains a clause calling for a regional-wide referendum to have the people decide their political future and set 2015 as the date for that ultimate decision.

Mr Akoitai, who considers himself as a private and corporate citizen, says the weapons disposal is not complete and still needs to be addressed.

He also says the automous government's internal revenue could be as little as 10 million US dollars which he says is not enough to be an independent nation.