Bougainville referendum: PNG region votes for independence

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Bougainville referendum: PNG region votes for independence

Postby Ozymandias » Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:32 am

Here's an update from the BBC on one of the places RYP wrote about in The Hunter, The Hammer, and Heaven in 2002:

Sadly, I think independence for Bougainville would go about as well as it has done for South Sudan, but let's see what the PNG government and international community say about this result first!

Bougainville referendum: PNG region votes overwhelmingly for independence

The people of Bougainville, an island group in Papua New Guinea, have voted overwhelmingly for independence.

Voters had two options - more autonomy, or full independence. Of the 181,000 ballots, almost 98% were in favour of independence.

The referendum was approved by the Papua New Guinea government, but the result is non-binding.

Nevertheless, the landslide victory will put pressure on PNG to grant Bougainville independence.

The islands have a population of around 300,000, and 206,731 people enrolled to vote in the referendum.

In total, 181,067 ballots were cast. Of those:

176,928 voted for independence
3,043 voted for greater autonomy
1,096 were classed as informal, or void.

The results were announced in the town of Buka by former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, the chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission.

"Now, at least psychologically, we feel liberated," said John Momis, president of the regional autonomous government.

One Bougainvillian, nursing graduate Alexia Baria, told news agency AFP that "happiness was an understatement".

"You see my tears - this is the moment we have been waiting for," she said.

Why was there a referendum?

Bougainville had a nine-year separatist war that began in 1988, fuelled by economic grievance.

The end of the fighting led to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the creation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and the promise of a non-binding referendum on independence.

Even in colonial times, Bougainville was an outpost. The islands attempted to declare independence during the formation of Papua New Guinea in 1975 - but they were ignored.

What happens now?

The referendum was non-binding - meaning independence won't happen automatically.

Discussions will take place with the Papua New Guinea government to decide when - or if - the transition to full independence can begin.

Although the PNG government was against independence, and does not have to accept the result, the huge mandate will make it hard to ignore.

The 98% result is above pre-referendum predictions - most experts expected the figure to be around 75% - 80%.

The PNG minister for Bougainville affairs, Puka Temu, said "the outcome is a credible one" - but asked that voters "allow the rest of Papua New Guinea sufficient time to absorb this result".

Is Bougainville ready for independence?

The new country - should it happen - would be small, with a land mass of less than 10,000 sq km (slightly larger than Cyprus, and slightly smaller than Lebanon).

Likewise, its population would be one of the world's smallest - slightly smaller than Pacific neighbour Vanuatu, and slightly bigger than Barbados.

But according to research by Australia's Lowy Institute, Bougainville self-reliance would at best be years away.

The country is rich in natural resources - especially copper, which has been extracted on a large scale since the 1960s under Australian administration.

But mining was been crippled by the war - and the distribution of revenue was one of the factors behind the conflict.

One estimate cited by the Lowy Institute says Bougainville would only have 56% of the revenue needed to be self-reliant.
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Re: Bougainville referendum: PNG region votes for independen

Postby 2 Charlie » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:21 pm

The former Governor was a friend of mine in Port Moresby ten years ago as the ARB laid the ground work for this vote. My Deputy was the commander of PNGDF troops at the time of cease fire and had risen in the ranks during the conflict and lost a lot of young soldiers. I was introduced to the Col who seized Parliament during the Sandline Crisis and my former Managing Director uses him today as a consultant as he is now the senior board member for BCL.

BCL has lost their social license to operate and a new entity has stepped into play with the traditional land owners. Bougainville was critical in WW2 in turning the Japanese tide and instead of reaping the rewards of victory, the allies walked away, miners arrived and Australia granted them exploitation rights that destroyed the matrimonial culture by appointing patriarchs as spokesmen in a place they never had authority.

Francis Ona fought a deadly war, but his wife waged a deeper silent fight through women’s church groups in Port Moresby that saw a vote in Parliament for peace. An Accord he could not accept at first. This is how close bedroom politics plays in some conflicts. Mr and Mrs Smith, Bougainville Style.

With a proper and transparent benefit sharing agreement, the Panguna mine of Bougainville could create a prosperity never seen in the South Pacific Islands for what could become this planets newest nation.
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Re: Bougainville referendum: PNG region votes for independen

Postby RYP » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:32 pm

The Aussies have a bad habit of poisoning or killing leaders there. Or maybe they just die of boredom. I would gladly plug Bougainville as a tourist destination but I fear that success would kill the island.
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Re: Bougainville referendum: PNG region votes for independen

Postby babihutan » Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:43 am

RYP wrote:I would gladly plug Bougainville as a tourist destination but I fear that success would kill the island.

I don’t know.....sounds like this place would make the next best sex tourist destination.

A 2013 United Nations survey of 843 men found that 62% (530 respondents) of those have raped a woman or girl at least once, with 41% (217 respondents) of the men reported having raped a non-partner, whereas 14% (74 respondents) reported having committed gang rape. Additionally, the survey also found that 8% (67 respondents) of the men had raped other men or boys
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