TIPNG was accredited by the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) as a domestic PNG observer group. The TIPNG observation team was comprised of volunteers from: academia, independent constitutional bodies, TIPNG Staff and TIPNG Directors, who possessed relevant knowledge of electoral processes.
The purpose of the observation was to report whether: Bougainvilleans were free to exercise their right to vote, if the Referendum process was fair to all voters; and to see if polling was safe from violence. These observation results fed into an overall assessment as to whether the Referendum outcome credibly reflects the will of Bougainvillean voters.
There were two survey forms that TIPNG observers used in the field: the first survey form, systematically evaluated polling stations and officials; and the second form that collected the views of voters. In total, nine TIPNG observers participated in the field work during the week of polling from 23 to 28 November 2019 in North and Central Bougainville. There were 28 polling places observed and 163 voters interviewed by TIPNG observers.
Quantitative results from both observers and voters demonstrated a high degree of freedom of expression and the exercising of voters’ rights. Additionally, a substantial majority of observers deemed the referendum process was very fair. A sole incident in Central Bougainville and bias of a polling official at one polling place in North Bougainville are not considered to be reflective of the overall high degree of fairness observed.
There were significantly high percentages of reports by TIPNG observers that voters and polling officials were not subject to intimidation or bribery, as recorded by 93% and 71% respectively. These findings were also supported by the voter surveys where 99% of respondents never felt threatened to select a particular option.
TIPNG’s overall evaluation based on observation data both quantitatively and qualitatively reflected that the Bougainville Referendum was free, fair & safe and credibly reflected the will of voters.
Thursday 20th February 2020, Port Moresby – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has released a report outlining findings from its Observation of the Bougainville Referendum last year, to stakeholders and partners.
TIPNG’s Observation of the Bougainville Referendum was across 28 polling sites in North and Central Bougainville with well over a 100 voters interviewed. TIPNG only observed the Polling Process and not the Counting.
“The TIPNG Observers played a critical role in the Referendum by observing the conduct of polling and counting, to ascertain if the process was free, open, transparent, democratic and fair – based on national legislation and according to national and international standards,” said Mr. Yuambari Haihuie, TIPNG Deputy Director (Policy & Advocacy) and coordinator of the Bougainville Referendum Observation (BRO) Project.
“In terms of TIPNG’s overall assessment of the Bougainville Referendum, while there were minor procedural issues, if measured against the standard of previous elections in PNG, the Bougainville Referendum was free, fair & safe and credibly reflects the will of the people of Bougainville. Observers were all welcomed and did not encounter any hostility or violence; in fact most polling stations had a sense of celebration by communities as polling commenced,” said Mr. Haihuie in presentation at the launch of the report.
Furthermore, all voters that were interviewed by TIPNG Observers were forthcoming in their answers and gave answers freely. The TIPNG Observers were comprised of TIPNG Staff & Directors, and volunteers from partners institutions such as the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), PNG National Research Institute (NRI), Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission (IPPCC).
TIPNG thanks the people of Bougainville and the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) Polling Officials for their unanimous support in answering survey questions over the week of polling.
The TIPNG BRO Project was funded by the European Union (EU) and it is hoped that the report by TIPNG will be of use to the Government of PNG and the Autonomous Bougainville Government in their deliberation on the outcome of the Referendum.