The political structure of Bougainville as an autonomous region within Papua New Guinea reflects the important need, following the civil war, for parliamentary representation of different interest groups.
Bougainville remains part of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and has four elected representatives in the PNG national parliament. Separately, it also has its own Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and parliament (House of Representatives) which were established through the peace negotiations (Bougainville Peace Agreement) to end the Bougainville crisis.
Under the peace agreement, a referendum on Bougainville’s future political status, ie independence from PNG, is to be held no later than June 2020.
General elections in Bougainville are held every five years and use a limited preferential voting system.
The parliament comprises 33 constituency members (14 from the northern region, eight from central and 11 in the south), three women’s representatives, three former combatant representatives and a speaker (appointed from outside by the other members of parliament). The four national MPs are also afforded places in the parliament.
The President is elected directly by the people in a separate ballot and appoints cabinet members (the executive), including the vice president, from the elected members of parliament. The parliament sits in Buka.
Of the three seats dedicated to women’s representatives, one woman is elected from each of north, south and central Bougainville. Women can also contest the separate constituency seats, but the three reserved seats ensure women have a minimum representation. At least one woman elected to a reserved seat must also be appointed to a cabinet portfolio.
Former combatants from the Bougainville crisis are given similar representation, with the three members also elected from north, south and central regions.
Additionally, the emergence of Community Government also provides for local-level representation for Bougainvilleans under the Community Government Act that was passed in June 2016. There is provision for 47 community governments and the first elections were held in June 2017.
The third Bougainville House of Representatives was sworn in on Monday, 15 June 2015. The Members of Parliament assigned cabinet portfolios are:
President Hon John Momis (Buin) – Minister for Planning and Inter-Government Relations
Vice-President Hon. Raymond Masono (Atolls) – Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources
Hon. Nicholas Darku (North Nasioi) – Minister for Primary Industries
Hon. Jacob Tooke (Baubake) – Minister for Community Government
Hon. Thomas Pa’ataku (Ramu) – Minister for Education
Hon. Dennis Lokonai (Bolave) – Minister for Health
Hon. Luke Karaston (Suir) – Minister for Technical Services
Hon. Robin Wilson (Terra) – Minister for Finance and Treasury
Hon Willie Masiu (Konnou) – Minister for Justice
Hon. Albert Punghau (Motuna Huyono) – Minister for Peace Agreement Implementation
Hon. Josephine Getsi (Peit) – Minister for Community Development
Hon. Fidelis Semoso (Tsitalato) – Minister for Economic Development
Hon. John Tabinaman (Mahari) – Minister for Lands, Physical Planning, Environment and Conservation
Hon. Robert Hamal Sawa (Hagogohe) – Minister for Personal Management and Administrative Services