19 Dec 2019

Bougainville referendum voter turnout record high for PNG

3:18 pm on 19 December 2019

The Bougainville Referendum Commission has released the final enrolment and voter turnout figures from the autonomous Papua New Guinea region's independence referendum.

Vote count by referendum officials.

Vote count by referendum officials. Photo: Bougainville Referendum Commission

In the non-binding referendum's result announced last week, an overwhelming 97.7 percent for Bougainville's independence.

The final voter turnout of 87.4 percent comes from the 181,067 persons who voted in the referendum, out of a total of 207,213 persons on the final referendum roll.

Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said that it was a record voter turnout for a PNG electoral process.

To come into effect, the referendum result needs to be ratified by PNG's national parliament.

First there will be consultations between the PNG and Autonomous Bougainville governments beginning in the new year.

Chief Referendum Officer for the Bougainville independence referendum, Mauricio Claudio.

Chief Referendum Officer for the Bougainville independence referendum, Mauricio Claudio. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

"We think the use of provisional and postal voting, both firsts for PNG, were effective ways to add to the inclusivity of the vote.

"They allowed those who had enrolled but were not found on the roll at their polling place, or those who because of a disability, travel or illness could not get to a polling place - all to cast their vote," Mr Claudio said.

The Commission returned the Referendum Writ to the Governor-General on Friday 13 December.

Over the fortnight of polling, voters were asked to choose between Bougainville having continued autonomy within Papua New Guinea or the second option, becoming independent.

Number of votes for Greater Autonomy: 3,043

Number of votes for Independence: 176,928

The referendum process is currently within the 40-day appeals period, ending 20 January 2020.

"Our sole purpose was to deliver a credible answer to the question, set by the two governments, on the political future of Bougainville for Bougainvilleans, so that they can then consult and then proceed to National Parliament for final decision-making," Mr Claudio said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs