Bougainvilleans to the polls from today

12:03 pm on 11 May 2015

Voters in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainvilleans today begin electing a parliament that will play a key role in the peace process.

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Photo: RNZ

The poll for the third Autonomous Bougainville Government is being conducted over a two-week period.

Don Wiseman has more:

"342 candidates, including a record 32 women candidates, are contesting the 40 seats. Bougainville is set to hold a referendum on possible independence from PNG before 2020 as laid down in the 2001 Peace Agreement. This is seen as the critical issue for prospective MPs with the next parliament needing to ensure Bougainville is socially and economically ready for that vote. And to develop that economic viability they will face a call for a return to mining - seen by many, including the outgoing government, as the way to quickly develop the economy. Others say that resumption can only happen if there is more consultation, reconcilation and economic restoration for previous environmental damage."

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