Bougainville's Momis told to be more conciliatory in money row
Veteran Bougainville politician, Sam Akoitai calls for a more conciliatory approach from Bougainville's ABG over funding row with Port Moresby.
A veteran Bougainville politician, Sam Akoitai, has admonished president John Momis for threatening to take the Papua New Government government to court.
Mr Momis says the O'Neill government has for years failed to fulfill its commitments to properly fund the region, both under the constitution and the Bougainville Pece Agreement.
Next week both administrations meet in a Joint Supervisory Body meeting and Mr Momis says if the national government does not resolve the matter he will sue over it.
Mr Akoitai, who has served in several national cabinets, told Don Wiseman he wants to see a more conciliatory approach.
SAM AKOITAI: My concern is this issue has been raised by the Bougainville autonomous government time and time again with the national government, and I am concerned that it has gone to a stage where the president [John Momis] has put on notice the national government, through the papers, where he is prepared to take the national government to court. My concern is that the Bougainville Peace Agreement was joint agreement between the national government and the people of Bougainville, through their leaders. And I would see that any actions by any one party can be dealt with in the JSB [Joint Supervisory Body] through, any of those meetings. And my view is Momis should not take the national government to court to try and settle this issue. But what I see as a middle ground is for President Momis to seek a Supreme Court reference, to seek clarification from the courts to settle this matter.
DON WISEMAN: It has been going on a long time this argument about right money coming through and as far as Bougainville is concerned this amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars now. You have been involved with Bougainvillean politics for a long time, so it that the sense that you have that Port Moresby is dragging the chain on funding commitments.?
SA: I don't think it has been done deliberately, perhaps a misunderstanding from the national government. I can understand why things have come to this stage, is that the players at the time we signed the Peace Agreement, they are no longer in politics, except for Momis, who continues to be in office. And not just that, our difficulties are that the bureaucrats in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, they are no longer in office. So I can see where the misunderstanding is coming between the two parties. And that is why I am calling for both sides to address this perhaps through a Supreme Court reference.
DW: Do you think that Port Moresby has actually got the money? There are a lot of areas around PNG now where they are scrambling for funds aren't they - education and health, and all these areas. There are a lot of people asking for what seems to be a diminishing pool of money. So is that a factor?
SA: Well you may have hit the nail on the head. I am trying to right that issue by calling for both parties to go to court, or I mean to have an agreement on what action to take, because I was involved in the negotiations [ on the Peace Agreement] and I understand where Momis is coming from. They are constitutional grants. They are guaranteed through the constitution but if Momis is successful in getting a decision from a court [in his suit] it will just be a waste of time because I don't think the national government has the money.
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