Mining at the top of agenda for Bougainville's leader
Bougainville's re-elected president promises a collaborative leadership effort and immediate talks on mining.
The president elect of Bougainville John Momis says he has made it clear he is willing to work with all factions for the benefit of the region.
Mr Momis won a resounding re-election after the end of counting in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region at the weekend.
His margin over the second placed former head of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Ishmael Toroama, was nearly 33,000 votes.
Mr Toroama's BRA colleague Sam Kauona was third.
It became evident early in the count that Mr Momis would take the seat for a second five year term but he says he is delighted with the win.
JOHN MOMIS: I'm happy is it all over because even though I was confident, you know, things could go wrong with the situation we have on the ground. I'm very happy. I got a quite a big win and a good mandate to do things.
DON WISEMAN: It's a huge win isn't it? It must feel like a huge vindication of everything you've been standing for now for a long time.
JM: That's correct, Don. I have opted not to be involved in vote-buying and that sort of thing. Although it is a risky business to go down that road, from what I hear a fair bit of money was thrown around. But the people won out in the end by opting to support leadership that believes in democracy, fair play and justice.
DW: A very good showing by the former leaders of the BRA. Do you envisage working more closely with them through this critical build-up to the referendum?
JM: Yes. It is my long-standing policy to achieve things through collaborative effort so I have already made a statement that I will work with everybody, all the different factions and so on. It is only to the advantage of Bougainville if all of us can work together. In fact, I am inviting those who contested against me and lost, to come to the inauguration to start talking about how we can work together and work for the common good of Bougainville.
DW: This critical issue of the referendum before 2020 and your firm commitment towards you restarting mining, just how quickly are you going to look into that?
JM: Well as you know fiscal self reliance is one of the pillars of the Peace Agreement, in fact you can't be fully autonomous let alone independent if you don't have fiscal self reliance. So I intend to take some immediate steps to talk to Bougainville Copper and Rio Tinto ultimately, hoping that we can agree as soon as practicable to come in again and take some practical steps to reopen the mine. If Rio Tinto chooses not to indulge us then we have other options to look at.
DW: You have talked to them previously I guess so you would have a fair idea which way they are leaning.
JM: Yes. Rio Tinto is now reassessing their position in view of the new mining law we have. We don't want to procrastinate unnecessarily so I will be writing to them as soon as I can after the inauguration to invite them to come and talk to us if they are interested.
That is Bougainville President elect John Momis.
His inauguration is next Monday, June 15th.
One of the last seats to be declared was the North Bougainville reserved women's seat, which was won by Francesca Semoso.
She won on second and third preference votes after trailing significantly after the initial counts.
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