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Bougainvilleans are voting in a historic referendum to decide if it will become the world’s newest nation by gaining independence from Papua New Guinea.
Here are some key facts that has led to this important event.
- A result of a peace agreement almost 2 decades ago that ended civil war
- Violence in Bougainville began in the late 1980s, triggered by conflict over an enormous open cast copper mine at Panguna.
- mine was a huge export earner for Papua New Guinea
- Landowners felt they were not benefiting directly from the mine and disrupted way of living
- The mine has remained shut since the conflict
- At least 15,000 people died during that civil war
- Estimated 250,000 Bougainvillians will vote
- Expert say overwhelming majority will vote in favour of independence
- The final say of independence will depend on the legislative arm of Papua New Guinea parliament.
- 40 UN staffers on the ground and more than 100 international observers
- People coming from all corners of the province by foot and boat to vote
Best wishes to the people of Bougainville.