Voters in Bougainville voted more than 98 percent to make the Pacific island independent of Papua New Guinea, according to official referendum results released Wednesday (December 11th). The vote must however be ratified by the Parliament of this country of Oceania.
Bertie Ahern, chairman of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, announced that in the referendum, 176,928 voters voted in favor of independence, more than 98 percent of the votes cast.
Only 3,043 people spoke in favor of greater autonomy.
The result of the referendum must now be ratified by the Parliament of Papua New Guinea, some of whom are strongly opposed to this independence, fearing in particular a contagion effect in a country of great ethnic diversity.
The magnitude of the victory of the supporters of independence should, however, weigh in favor of the recognition of the referendum.
Bertie Ahern urged all parties to validate the outcome of the consultation. This vote was for "your peace, your history and your future" and showed "the power of the pen against weapons," he said.
This historic vote will definitely turn the tide of a decade of armed conflict that left 20,000 dead before the 1998 ceasefire.
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