Buka, Bougainville (PACNews)-- Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Grand Chief Dr John Momis has hinted a possible five year time-line to negotiate possible independence from Papua New Guinea for the people of Bougainville. Updated 2:37 AM ET, Wed December 11, 2019. Former French President Giscard d’Estaing dies of COVID-19 at 94, US: Biden, top Democrats back bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill, Saudi Arabia, Qatar near agreement in Gulf crisis: Sources, Trump releases video repeating debunked election fraud claims, Trump discussed pre-emptive pardons for family: Reports. Francesca Semoso, women’s representative and deputy speaker of the ABG House of Representatives, in Buka on the opening day of voting in the Bougainville independence referendum. The civil war had in part been over a dispute about the mine's management, and some predict Papua New Guinea will be reluctant to lose access to the region's valuable natural resources. A referendum, 20 years in the making, is underway to decide whether the small island of Bougainville in the south west Pacific will seek full independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG). “Many people fought,” said 23-year-old Jessica Ota, who was born as the war still raged. The referendum has been a long time coming. But in a sign of hopeful cooperation with the national government, Momis was accompanied to the polling station by Puka Temu, PNG’s minister for Bougainville affairs. "This referendum has been on people's minds for 20 years," said Peake. It was an emotional moment for me. recent weeks once-sworn enemies have taken part in tearful reconciliation ceremonies, where arrows were snapped to symbolise the end of a vicious conflict. More than 181,000 people voted in the independence referendum in Bougainville, a group of islands. Photograph: Ness Kerton/AFP via Getty Images After 20 years, the big day … “I am going to rejoice and the bamboo band must play and I’ll dance and go and vote.”. Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), has been inhabited by humans for at least 29,000 years, according to artefacts found in Kilu Cave on Buka Island. Some remarked that days of heavy rain preceding Saturday’s vote were a sort of “baptism” for a community that still vividly remembers the pain of conflict. The 1988-1998 war had its roots in a struggle over revenues from the now-shuttered Panguna copper mine, which at one point accounted for more than 40 percent of PNG’s exports. Gianluca Rampolla, the United Nations resident coordinator in PNG. Yet there’s few outward signs of PTSD. “The celebratory spirit around this particular day, I think it demonstrates the maturity of our leadership and the maturity of the people in Bougainville,” Temu said. Independence for Bougainville could instantly make the islands a new front in the battle for influence being waged between China, the United States and Australia across the South Pacific. ", Eddie Mohin has been campaigning for independence for years, and hailed the day as a victory. Polls will stay open for two weeks to ensure those in remote villages have a say, with a result expected in December. Bougainville women’s rep and proud mother Gertrude Gaunara said she was emotional when the results were announced. Up to 20,000 people were killed in the fighting, with thousands more displaced from their homes. Their choice is between full independence or greater autonomy within PNG. Supporters of full independence are expected to win handily, although without reliable opinion polls, a surprise is always possible. Polls will stay open for two weeks to ensure those in remote villages have a say, with a result expected in December. Last December the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, an area in Papua New Guinea (PNG), voted in a referendum for independence, a move motivated by a history of violence and conflict. "We just want everybody to respect our people's choice and give us what we want," he said. "All along (the desire for independence) was in my blood," he said. “I am so happy,” said 54-year-old Olitha Mokela. Next, the Bougainville and Papua New Guinea governments will need to meet and negotiate details for a new relationship. Mohin said he and other activists will begin building the region's economy, educational system, and health services, in preparation for an independent future. " As we celebrate Independence Day for 2019, I want to reflect on the upcoming referendum and the future political path of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. There were failed attempts at independence then, before simmering discontent erupted into a nine-year civil war that left thousands of people dead. An independence referendum for the Pacific island of Bougainville has been delayed by four months to October 17, leaders of the island and Papua New Guinea said on Friday. The celebrations are aimed at encouraging economic recovery, reconciliation and celebrating Bougainville’s achievements on its path to the referendum and its ultimate political goal; independence. Bougainville, formerly an Australian colonial territory, has had a fractious relationship with Papua New Guinea since joining the country in 1976. Today many of Bougainville’s 206,000 eligible voters are moving towards one of 800 polling stations across the territory on its first day of voting. The simple fact is… About 207,000 Bougainvilleans are registered to vote on whether Melanesian isles will become world’s newest country. A decade-long civil war in the 1990s, often referred to as the ‘Bougainville crisis’ (those familiar with the Lloyd Jones novel Mr Pip will recognise the setting) devastated the region. The vote caps a 2001 peace deal that ended a brutal decade-long war between Bougainville rebels, PNG security forces and foreign mercenaries. 176,928 votes for independence have been recorded out of 181,067 ballots. But the territory has historically shared a closer affinity with the neighbouring Solomon Islands than PNG. IT was an emotional day for Bougainvilleans when the results of the referendum showed most people were in favour of independence. But rejection would risk rekindling former feuds and destroying the peace process. John Momis, Bougainville regional president, cautioned excited voters on Saturday that the referendum was only one step in a long process and urged patience. Chairman of the Central Bougainville Events Committee and Kieta District Executive Manager Tonny Moera said over the years there was never much emphasis on the celebrations. Bougainville is an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. About 207,000 Bougainvilleans are registered to vote on whether Melanesian isles will become world’s newest country. "People have been waiting for the opportunity to cast their vote for a long time. Joyous voters in the Pacific island chain of Bougainville cheered and sang as they flocked to the polls Saturday at the start of a long-awaited referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea. Afghan gov’t, Taliban announce breakthrough deal in peace talks, Kurd vs Kurd: Fears of full-scale war rise in northern Iraq, Al Jazeera Centre for Public Liberties & Human Rights. “I was watching it live on my phone. New Zealand is leading an international unarmed police contingent for the vote, backed by fellow witnesses to the 2001 peace agreement: Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. A former veteran who fought in the civil war, he said he had been working "around the clock" to ensure the vote could go forward -- and now "we got what we wanted.". If voters do choose independence, the decision would need ratification from the PNG Parliament, where there is anxiety that Bougainville could set a precedent and spur other independence movements within the diverse country. November 27, 2019 Bougainville’s Faustian Bargain Preparations for the voting were peaceful, and in recent weeks once-sworn enemies have taken part in tearful reconciliation ceremonies, where arrows were snapped to symbolise the end of a vicious conflict. The 20-year itch Bougainville has voted for independence, but may not get it The restive province of Papua New Guinea has waited since 2001 for a referendum Asia Dec 18th 2019 edition The ex-Fianna Fail leader was … Voters gather at a polling station in Buka to cast their ballot in the Bougainville independence referendum. Their defiance was quickly suppressed, and the region was incorporated into independent Papua New Guinea, but by the end of the 1980s, tensions related to Bougainville's enormous copper … Joyous voters in the Pacific island chain of Bougainville cheered and sang as they flocked to the polls Saturday at the start of a long-awaited referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea gained its independence on September 16, but with Australia's assistance, refused to recognise Bougainville's independence. Toroama and his new cabinet plan to begin discussions with the PNG government on the non-binding independence referendum result in the near future. The vote is a significant indicator of public sentiment, but is non-binding, and will now need to be approved by the Papua New Guinea parliament before Bougainville can become its own country. A ceremony to announce the results of Bougainville's historic referendum opened with a chorus of the Bougainville anthem. Voting information pamphlets at a polling station in the Bougainville capital Buka on November 22, 2019. Why are thousands of Indian farmers protesting? The South Pacific region of Bougainville has voted for independence from Papua New Guinea. The region is named after Bougainville Island, the largest island of the Solomon Islands archipelago, but also contains a number of smaller islands. Two weeks before Papua New Guinea was scheduled to gain independence from Australia in 1975, leaders in Bougainville tried to opt out by declaring their own independent Republic of the North Solomons. ANALYSIS: By Keith Jackson Ishmael Toroama built his reputation as a bold fighter and later a commander in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) in its struggle to close the Panguna copper and gold mine and gain independence for Bougainville … The mine, unused for 30 years and its infrastructure and equipment stolen or trashed, will require a decade and billions of dollars to restitute. About 207,000 Bougainvilleans are registered to vote and decide whether the Melanesian isles will become the world’s newest country. Some in the region worry that the Papua New Guinea government will push back and try to block the secession -- Mohin accused the mainland of wanting to "keep the resources on the island.". On Saturday morning in Bougainville's main city Buka, at least 1,000 people gathered as polls opened, with scenes of singing and dancing as excitement grew over the possibility of independence. ", When asked if the issue was now resolved, he gave an emphatic "Yes.". “We should not rush things, we should take our time to ensure a good outcome,” he said, adding that a final result “could be five years” away. ... saying it is 'a day of shame' and party has 'failed Jewish people'" As a Bougainvillean and a Papua New Guinean, I am less concerned about Greater Autonomy, Independence (or the ‘Third Choice’ whatever it might be). News Bougainville votes overwhelmingly for independence from Papua New Guinea . An autonomous region in Papua New Guinea, Bougainville is aiming for independence and elected a president who shares that ambition. More than 1,000 people waited on Saturday morning to cast their ballots at one polling station in the main city of Buka, as others formed makeshift choirs that stomped through the streets, waving independence flags, blowing bamboo pipes and chanting in chorus. The referendum ballot offered a choice between independence or greater autonomy within Papua New Guinea. Who controls that wealth is likely to be vital in determining whether a newly-born Bougainville succeeds. However, Peake cautioned that more complex work lies ahead, and that the fight has only been half won. On September 1, 1975, the people of Bougainville raised the flag and declared independence as the Republic of the North Solomons. Bougainville independence high on agenda as Ishmael Toroama elected president Leanne Jorari and Ben Doherty. But the rich mineral resources on Bougainville will not magically transform into a fully integrated and prosperous economy the day independence is granted. More than 181,000 people voted in the independence referendum in Bougainville, a group of islands that sit on one of the world's largest copper mines, off … “Another step before that though will take place here in the PNG Parliament, where the government also needs to approve any outcome.”. Many factors will need to be considered -- for instance, the terms of trade, travel, and residence. Supporters of full independence are expected to win handily, although without reliable opinion polls, a surprise is always possible. The non-binding referendum was part of a peace agreement forged nearly 20 years ago, which brought an end to a … The Pacific island chain of Bougainville has begun voting in a long-awaited referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the meantime, those who campaigned for independence are looking forward. Bougainville votes on independence from Papua New Guinea. However, the vote indicated such an overwhelming demand for independence that Papua New Guinea may have difficulty brushing it aside, Peake said. Bougainville has voted overwhelmingly to seek independence from Papua New Guinea, with more than 97 per cent in favour of autonomy. Spectators at the scene whooped and cheered, and a group of women broke into song, said Gordon Peake of the Australian National University, who attended the announcement. EX-TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has declared a landslide referendum vote backing Bougainville’s independence from Papua New Guinea. Women and children wear traditional dress at a referendum polling station in Buka, Bougainville, on November 25, 2019. Bougainville independence campaigners are bracing for this next step; the copper mine, estimated to be worth $58 billion, has long been a point of territorial contention. “While many are expecting an overwhelming vote for independence, what that would look in terms of building an economy and breaking away from Papua New Guinea isn’t entirely clear yet,” Al Jazeera’s Nicola Gage, reporting from the PNG capital, Port Moresby, said. Bougainville has voted overwhelmingly to seek independence from Papua New Guinea. Bougainville residents queue to vote at a polling station in an historic independence vote in Buka on November 23, 2019. Bougainville has waited a very long time for her independence, which was again expressed last year in the referendum vote, where 97.7% of the Bougainville people voted for independence. Bougainville Independence Day From The Guardian, (Australia) 9 September 1998. They are among the poorest in the southern hemisphere and the need for cash to build infrastructure, develop institutions and balance the books “creates an opportunity for actors like China to get involved”, said Jonathan Pryke of Sydney’s Lowy Institute. “There’s been massive investment in terms of awareness-raising to ensure that the expectations of the voters be managed, to ensure that the understanding of the process be clear,” said Gianluca Rampolla, the United Nations resident coordinator in PNG. They wanted to make sure the issue of fighting for independence was put to rest. The results were met with celebration in Bougainville, where the results were announced in the city of Buka. Bougainville's conman 'king' still on the run as island edges closer to independence Ten years ago, ABC journalist Liam Fox met Bougainville's self … The referendum is not a determining vote. An autonomous region in Papua New Guinea, Bougainville is aiming for independence and elected a president who shares that ambition. Since French explorer Louis de Bougainville arrived on the palm-fringed archipelago more than 200 years ago, control passed in turn from Germany to Australia, Japan and the United Nations before administration was handed over to Port Moresby. Joyous voters in the Pacific island chain of Bougainville cheered and sang as they flocked to the polls Saturday at the start of a long-awaited referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea. "That's all.". The referendum is a centrepiece of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, which ended the longest-running conflict in the Pacific since the Second World War. (CNN)An autonomous region of Papua New Guinea has voted overwhelmingly to leave the country and form a new independent nation, authorities announced on Wednesday. The choice before voters is between an enhanced version of the current autonomy arrangements or independence. The Bougainville War, or ‘Crisis’ as the locals understate it, claimed an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 lives between 1988 and 1998. The mine is estimated to still hold more than five million tonnes of copper and 19 million ounces of gold – worth billions of dollars at current market prices. If independence is gained, she said, those lost in the crisis “would not have died for nothing”.