Majority voted for independence in referendum

At the conclusion of the referendum counting, it has been determined that a majority of Bougainvilleans have voted for Independence.

The announcement was made this afternoon at Bougainville’s count centre.

In making the announcement, the BRC said 176,928 votes were registered for Independence, 3,043 for Greater Autonomy and 1,096 were informal ballot papers – this was from the 181,067 ballot papers that were counted.

The BRC said some of the numbers also tell an important story:

  • The Referendum roll had equal numbers of women and men voting
  • The Referendum roll had 25 percent first time voters
  • The voter turnout, of at least 85 percent, was high when compared with international democratic electoral experience, and is the highest of any electoral process in Papua New Guinea, and
  • The informal vote of 1,096 was low when compared with international democratic electoral experience and national elections.

BRC chair, Bertie Ahern, said as enshrined in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, they have done their very best and have conducted the most comprehensive enrollment in the history of Papua New Guinea.

“As the mandated independent body appointed to conduct the Bougainville Referendum, the BRC has witnessed a voting that was informed, free of fear and accessible.”

Meantime, the Bougainville Peace Agreement says the referendum is non-binding and is subject to ratification by the National Parliament.

This means that the option of ‘Independence’ is not necessarily the final decision of the PNG and Autonomous Bougainville governments.

(BRC picture of officials in the counting centre)

Carmella Gware