Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC)

Ballot papers formally destroyed

As authorised by law, ballot papers and materials from all 249 ballot boxes were burnt in an official ceremony witnessed by members of the Bougainville Police Service and BRC Commissioner Patrick Nisira.

Acting Chief Referendum Officer, Desmond Tsianai, said the Organic Law authorised the BRC to destroy all sensitive materials such as ballot papers and voter rolls after the petition period had ended. 

Majority voted for independence in referendum

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:

Ballot paper ‘selfies’ discouraged

Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio, said the practice both identified the voter and their vote – both of which undermined the secrecy of the referendum process.

“We understand that the people of Bougainville have waited patiently for two decades to vote, and that they are excited to finally have their say through this democratic, internationally recognised process.

Application period for interested groups extended

The closing date has been extended from October 6th to October 14th to give interested groups enough time to apply.

Acting Chief Referendum Officer, Desmond Tsianai, said under the law, Recognised Interest Groups provides an official way for non-governmental organisations, political parties and civil society groups supporting either referendum options – greater autonomy or independence – to appoint scrutineers during polling or transportation of the ballot boxes to the count centre and the scrutiny.

We are ready, govts told

During the Joint Supervisory Body meeting in Buka on September 12th, Commissioner Robert Igara told Prime Minister James Marape and President John Momis that the BRC was ready to deliver the referendum.

“We will deliver the referendum not just to a Bougainville standard, or a PNG standard, but to international standards,” Igara said.

“Our aim is a credible referendum, where there is free, fair and informed voting – and where all eligible voters exercise their democratic choice.”

Referendum observer applicants commended

Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio, said the involvement of independent observers, scrutineers and the media underlined the shared responsibility of ensuring the referendum is conducted in a free and fair manner.

“Observers play a critical role in the democratic electoral process, observing the conduct of polling and counting according to international standards. They add to the credibility of the process,” Claudio said.

Enrolment starts for Lihir, Porgera, Ramu

The decision was made in response to large populations of Bougainvilleans who have been restricted by employment and remoteness to travel to their provincial PNG Electoral Commission office to enrol.

“To those who have spoken out with a strong desire to take part in the referendum, we have heard you, logistics are now in place, and please be active in getting yourself enrolled this Monday and Tuesday,” stated the BRC.

Enrolment will take place on Monday and Tuesday 22-23 July at:

BRC announces enrolment dates for Australia

Enrolment dates for B’villeans in SI

The dates set are:

  • Honiara 5-6 July and 8-9 July (PNG High Commission, Honiara)
  • Gizo 11-13 July (location to be confirmed)

The decision of overseas enrolment in Honiara and Gizo (Solomon Islands), and Cairns and Brisbane (Australia), was made by the Bougainville Referendum Commission meeting with Chair Bertie Ahern on June 21, in response to the strong desire of Bougainvilleans living overseas to have their say in the referendum.

Voter enrolment continues

“It will continue until the issue of writs for the Referendum and until the job is done,” says the Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio.

“We will keep open beyond June 23 the three BRC regional centres in Buka, Arawa and Buin for voters yet to see their ward recorder,” he stated as phase two of the referendum enrolment process draws to a close.

“We congratulate all Bougainville ward recorders who have done the hard work of phase one and two – removing old or ineligible names off the 2015 election roll, and enrolling new voters in each ward.