The autonomous region of Bougainville has voted overwhelmingly in favour of starting to be impartial from Papua New Guinea, paving the way for the team of islands to turn out to be the world’s newest country.
Far more than a hundred and eighty,000 persons in Bougainville, a collection of islands flung 700km off the coastline of Papua New Guinea in the Solomon Sea, participated in a referendum in excess of the last several weeks that has been just about 20 several years in the building.
Almost ninety eight% of persons (176,928 persons) voted for independence and less than two% (three,043 persons) voted to stay as section of Papua New Guinea but with “greater autonomy”. There were one,096 casual ballots.
Those people gathered in Buka to hear the announcement of the benefits from the chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission’s chair Bertie Ahern burst into cheers and applause when the outcome was declared.
As the writs were signed by commissioners soon after the outcome, the group burst into track.
In 2001, the federal government of Papua New Guinea promised the vote as section of a peace arrangement to conclusion a devastating decade-extended civil war that saw an estimated 20,000 persons, out of a inhabitants at the time of 200,000, killed.
The vote took put amid a temper of great celebration, with persons in the principal township of Buka singing, dancing, cheering and participating in pan flutes as they adopted the region’s president John Momis to the polling booth to look at him forged the very first vote in the referendum on 23 November.
“It’s evident that the persons are now in the temper for celebration and I join them as they have every single right to celebrate,” explained Momis, rising from the polling booth with arms lifted.
Even so, Bougainville will not turn out to be a new country right away, as the referendum outcome is non-binding, the leadership of PNG and Bougainville will have to negotiate, with the final say as to no matter if Bougainville will be authorized to break away from the relaxation of the state resting with the PNG parliament.
Talking at the announcement of the outcome in Buka, Sir Puka Temu, PNG’s minister for Bougainville, explained the outcome was a “creditable one” but reminded the group that the referendum was non-binding and that the national parliament of PNG “had the final authority” in excess of the outcome.
Temu explained PNG’s key minister, James Marape, would make a assertion in the coming days about the way ahead, introducing: “I will not present the outcome of the referendum to the parliament till soon after the consultation has been concluded.”
“For the relaxation of PNG, this is a huge huge outcome, this is a transformational political announcement and for that reason make sure you make it possible for PNG enough time to take in this outcome.”
There are fears that the PNG federal government, which does not would like to lose section of its country, or established a precedent for other independence-minded provinces, might drag out the consultations process, with some Bougainville observers estimate it could be a decade in advance of an impartial Bougainville is established.
There are concerns that any delays in this process could result in disappointment in Bougainville and finally direct to unrest, threatening the difficult-received peace on the islands.
Even so, the president of the Autonomous Bougainville Govt, John Momis, advised the group he considered Marape was fully commited to Bougainville, saying of the key minister: “He is intelligent, he is educated and he is humble, he is well prepared to hear.”
“We are all complete of expectations and hope,” explained Momis. “If we function with each other the outcome will be good and official… and most importantly and create lasting peace.”