OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Reconciliation and peace first of all: the post-referendum expectations on Bougainville

Saturday, 14 December 2019


Bougainville (Agenzia Fides) - On December 7, the referendum on independence of the autonomous region of Bougainville from Papua New Guinea concluded. 98 percent of the citizens of the islands that make it up voted in favor, even if the process to obtain effective recognition is still long. It could in fact last another twenty years since the government of Papua New Guinea will have to decide whether to accept or not.
"In such a particular context, our commitment to prayer and social activities is increasingly projected towards a process of reconciliation and peace", says Sister Anna Pigozzo, missionary of the Cavanis Jesus Good Shepherd Fraternity, to Agenzia Fides. "At a political level, our view and the opinion of people in our area is limited".
The result was announced by the chairman of the referendum organizing committee, former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. Voters could choose between "more autonomy" or "full independence". Of the 181,000 votes, only 3,000 expressed themselves to stay in Papua New Guinea even as an "autonomous region".
The referendum came after twenty years of civil war that caused thousands of deaths (see Agenzia Fides, 27/11/2019), and despite the vast majority being in favor of independence it is necessary to remain cautious.
If the Parliament of Port Moresby were to accept the request that emerged from the vote, Bougainville would become the youngest Country in the world. (AP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 14/12/2019)