Bougainville gears up for independence; constituents advised to 'accept change'

President Ishmael Toroama. Photo courtesy of PNG Buzz

Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama said the people must be ready to embrace the sweeping political changes being implemented by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) as it prepares for political independence.

“Change is imminent on Bougainville. The government has set a course for reform and change in our system of government and society and this will have a direct impact on our people,” Toroama said during the launching of the Bougainville Independence Ready Mission Implementation initiative in the Tsitalato Constituency.

Bougainville leaders have set a deadline of 2027 to gain full independence from Papua New Guinea, becoming the world's youngest nation.

"The timeline was agreed to by the two governments during the second consultation in Enga Province earlier this month," ABG said in a press release.

While Papua New Guinea has accepted the result of a 2019 referendum, in which 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans voted for secession, it has yet to commit to granting the region full independence.

“This change is the change desired by our people when they rejected autonomy and opted for independence during the Referendum in 2019 so you must be ready to support your government,” Toroama said.