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World's newest nation: Bougainville vote favors independence from Papua New Guinea

Christian Fernsby ▼ | December 11, 2019
The South Pacific region of Bougainville voted overwhelmingly to become the world’s newest nation by gaining independence from Papua New Guinea, results showed.
Bougainville people
Pacific   Bougainville people
Bougainville Referendum Commission Chairman Bertie Ahern was cheered when he announced that more than 98% of valid ballots favored independence. The only other option in the vote was greater autonomy from Papua New Guinea.

Topics: Bougainville independence Papua New Guinea

The referendum is nonbinding, and independence would then need to be negotiated between leaders from Bougainville and Papua New Guinea. The final say would then go to lawmakers in the Papua New Guinea Parliament. The process of becoming a separate nation could take years to achieve.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape's office said he was out of town and was not available for comment.

Around 85% of eligible voters cast more than 181,000 ballots in two weeks of voting.

The referendum is a key part of a 2001 peace agreement that ended a civil war in which at least 15,000 people died in the cluster of islands to the east of the Papua New Guinea mainland.