‘We’ve wanted this for a long time’: Bougainville prepares for independence vote – by Leanne Jorari (The Guardian – November 21, 2019)


Bougainville will head to the polls tomorrow to decide whether the region will seek independence from Papua New Guinea and become the world’s newest country, in a referendum that has been 20 years in the making.

The small archipelago of islands about 700km east of mainland Papua New Guinea, will hold a referendum that its people have been looking forward to since the ceasefire that ended a brutal civil war in 1998 and the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001.

With predictions that the majority of 206,000 registered voters will cast their ballots for independence, there is a general air of expectancy in the region.

In the past week, hundreds of scrutineers, observers, and local and international media have descended on the islands of Buka and Bougainville to witness the start of polling on Saturday. Voting will take place over two weeks, with a result announced in December.

Bougainville is an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea and has its own government, but it still depends on the national government for most of its income.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/22/bougainville-prepares-for-independence-vote-referendum