Pacific region of Bougainville prepares to vote on independence

Locals likely to back separation from Papua New Guinea during two-week referendum

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters greeting Papua New Guinea policemen on Nov 6 in Kokopo, East New Britain, at a reconciliation ceremony in a symbolic outpouring of forgiveness between "Melanesian brothers" ahead of a historical independence
Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters greeting Papua New Guinea policemen on Nov 6 in Kokopo, East New Britain, at a reconciliation ceremony in a symbolic outpouring of forgiveness between "Melanesian brothers" ahead of a historical independence referendum that begins this Saturday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The world may soon welcome a new country as the Pacific region of Bougainville prepares to start voting on whether to break away from Papua New Guinea.

The two-week vote, starting this Saturday, is widely expected to result in a strong show of support for statehood in the troubled region.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2019, with the headline 'Pacific region of Bougainville prepares to vote on independence'. Print Edition | Subscribe