Police support for Bougainville referendum

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has announced today that New Zealand is leading a police support mission in Bougainville as the region prepares to vote in a non-binding referendum on its political future.

“New Zealand has accepted an invitation from the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to lead an unarmed police contingent of up to 30 regional police officers,” Mr Peters said.

“The Pacific matters deeply to New Zealand. As a witness to the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, New Zealand has a close interest in Bougainville’s stability and development.

“The mandate of the mission is to advise and support the Bougainville Police Service. New Zealand has a long-standing relationship with the Bougainville Police Service through our ongoing policing advice on the ground as part of the Bougainville Community Police Programme,” said Mr Peters.

The regional police support mission is part of New Zealand’s $4.3 million package of support towards the referendum, which will take place from 23 November.

The final complement of New Zealand and regional police officers will depart for Bougainville on 7 November on a RNZAF C-130 Hercules, joining 11 colleagues who have been assisting with preparation work this year.  

As signatories to the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are also contributing to the support mission with two officers each.