Somare favours Bougainville to stay with PNG

3:31 pm on 13 April 2017

Papua New Guinea's founding father Sir Michael Somare says Bougainville should not break away from PNG.

Bougainville fought a secessionist war into the 1990s and is due to have an independence referendum in 2019.

Sir Michael Somare

Sir Michael Somare Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Speaking at the NBC Press Club, Sir Michael said he still believes that Bougainville is very much a part of PNG.

He says Bougainville should have been given the delegated powers or transfer of powers - autonomy - so they could stop asking for independence.

Sir Michael also mentioned Bougainville as he gave a public address at Port Moresby's Sir Hubert Murray Stadium yesterday to farewell the national political scene.

After giving his farewell speech to parliament last week, the former prime minister said there "should be no more politics" for him.

"I will still advocate in a non-partisan way, good leadership," he explained. "And should the need arise I will still speak up on issues that are important for the betterment of the people of this country."

Speaking on Bougainville again, he said people of PNG want it to remain part of the nation.

Sir Michael urged the next parliament and the public service to ensure that they "do the right thing to keep PNG together".

According to him, the current debate on autonomy for various parts of PNG is healthy.

"We must have open discussions on where we want our country to be."

Government, he said, must work to empower the general population so it could have dignity, clarity and confidence about their future.

On the eve of PNG's five-yearly elections, Sir Michael encouraged voters to choose their representatives carefully.

He also proffered counsel for the thousands of candidates standing in the elections.

"I hope you are sincere to the cause. If you want to make money you should stay out of this race and compete in the business sector."

"If you want to change the lives of our people through elective leadership, then stay out of business. Parliament is not the place to enrich yourself!"

As he exited the political stage, the Grand Chief said his advice to the people of PNG was to believe in themselves and in one another.

"Believe in our union as one people of one country."