Former ABG opponents now backing Bougainville poll

4:28 am on 7 April 2015

A former Bougainville president, James Tanis, says former opponents of the autonomous government have thrown their support behind next month's election process.

The Papua New Guinea province goes to the polls for two weeks from May 11th.

Mr Tanis, who was president from 2008 to 2010 but is not standing this time, says there is broad agreement among the nine presidential candidates on the critical issues of mining and the independence referendum.

And he says last week he witnessed a delegation from the Panguna region, including members of the former separatist group the Me'ekamui, giving its backing to candidates and the autonomous government.

Mr Tanis says they recognise it is time to move on.

"What they know is that there is no other way out. Bougainville needs to move ahead, implement the Peace Agreement and conduct the referendum. So that the question of Bougainville independence is put to rest once and for all."

He says, from what he is hearing, all the candidates seem committed to ensuring the referendum on possible independence from PNG, to be held within the next term, is successful.

"And so far I have heard, including President Momis, assuring that they are committed to Bougainville independence through a referendum. So there seems not much difference among the candidates, so far."

Bougainville readies for election

Bougainville readies for election Photo: AFP

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