December 11, 2019 / 4:24 AM / a month ago

Bougainville overwhelmingly votes for independence from Papua New Guinea

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The South Pacific islands of Bougainville have overwhelmingly voted to be independent from Papua New Guinea, the referendum commission said on Wednesday, in a historic poll that will trigger separation negotiations between the two governments.

Almost 98% of the 181,067 votes cast backed independence in the non-binding poll that is part of a peace pact struck in the aftermath of a decade-long war between Bougainville’s rebel fighters and PNG forces, which ended in 1998.

The referendum gave voters in the island cluster a choice between independence and greater autonomy.

Reporting by Jonathan Barrett in Sydney; Editin by Shri Navaratnam

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