New Caledonia votes against independence from France

Unofficial results show more than 96 percent voted against independence in the third and last such plebiscite under the 1998 Noumea Accord.

Turnout was just under 44 percent, down from more than 85 percent last year.

Pro-independence parties had called on their supporters not to vote after France refused to postpone the referendum because of the impact of the pandemic on the indigenous Kanak population.

The customary Kanak Senate had declared Sunday to be a day of mourning for the 280 people who died in the pandemic.

Switzerland votes to make same-sex marriage legal by near two-thirds majority

According to results provided by the Swiss federal chancellery, 64.1 percent of voters voted in favour of same-sex marriage in the nationwide referendum that was conducted under Switzerland's system of direct democracy.

"We are very happy and relieved," said Antonia Hauswirth of the national committee 'Marriage for All', adding supporters would celebrate in Switzerland's capital Bern on Sunday.

Amnesty International said in a statement that opening civil marriage to same-sex couples was a "milestone for equality".

PM: Parliament Will Decide on B’ville Independence

Prime Minister Marape responded by stating the importance of the consultations adding that it was as challenging as the issues affecting the country’s economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There can be no greater issue facing our government, our country when one part of our county decides or has decided to break away and be an independent nation,” he said.

PM Marape said he will be releasing a statement next week about the discussions during the consultations so that Parliament is guided and citizens are aware outcome of the dialogue.

First Leaders Consultation

Prime Minister James Marape and President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Ishmael Toroama committed to ensuring that the consultation process is guided by the principles of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA), and that both sides find a practical and acceptable solution that is beneficial to Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region.

The outcomes, which they have directed the National and Bougainville technical teams to:

Toroama Focused On Joint Consultations

He said these joint consultations can put forward Bougainville’s position reflected in the 97 per cent referendum vote for independence.

Following a recent meet with Prime Minister James Marape, President Toroama said Bougainville’s independence aspirations will remain steadfast however the Autonomous Bougainville Government will continue to foster collaboration with the National Government to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

UNDP Assists in Post-Referendum

This gesture was made by the UNDP in support of the ongoing post-referendum process, leading to the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

When handing over these assets to the NCOBA, UNDP Resident Representative, Dirk Wagner said the UNDP has supported the roll-out of the referendum with policy advisory, technical, logistical and operational support.

“With these contributions, the UNDP hopes that this referendum is being hailed and acknowledged by international observers as being one of the most transparent, inclusive and credible referendums,” he said.

Church leaders return from fact-finding mission

Organised with thanks to support from UN Women, the mission saw participants comprised of representatives from the PNG Council of Churches (PNGCC), government, civil society and research organisations visit Buka from 20-23 August.

ABG and NFA signs MoU

This is part of the drawing down of powers and functions by the National Government to the ABG in preparation for referendum 2019.

A Memorandum of Understanding to effect the drawing down of powers was also signed. The event took place at the Bel Isi Park, Buka in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Fisheries Minister, Patrick Basa, was on hand to officially hand over the amount.

Momis: Referendum will go ahead

On Tuesday in parliament, O'Neill categorically stated that there is no guarantee that referendum will take place on the set date, because requirements of the peace agreement have not been met.

“I want to make a very clear position of government, the referendum is subject to all the fulfilments clearly stated in the peace agreement, it’s a long way off so I don’t want Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans to think it’s an easy path, that just tomorrow we will wake up and have a referendum, it may be such that it may not be possible,” said O’Neill.

Lera to focus on referendum and rural service deliver

Lera in his second term pledged to have more regular consultation with the ABG President, the ABG ministers, the North, Central and South block ABG members and civil society institutions in Bougainville.

Social groups such as youth, women, churches, veterans and donor partners will also be consulted to shares views and find ways forward on how they can all work together to contribute and prepare Bougainville for referendum.