Following Dec non-binding referendum in which Bougainville electorate overwhelmingly voted for independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG), talks between Bougainville govt and national govt of PNG on what steps needed before referendum outcome negotiations can start progressed slowly. Talks on referendum consultation process took place in capital Port Moresby mid-March, resulting in decision for justice departments of both govts to work on clarification of term “ratification”. Meanwhile, at least nine people including three children reportedly killed in attack in Porgera valley on around 12 March; according to police, incident may be retaliatory attack for July 2019 deadly violence which resulted in dozens killed. UN in PNG 17 March condemned “massacre” and called “for immediate intervention to bring the perpetrators to justice”.
The struggle over land and natural resource rights is a key aspect of the conflict in Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, that pits the Indonesian state against an independence movement supported by most of the indigenous population.
Originally published in Australian Financial Review