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Referendum Polling Opens on Bougainville

Polling commenced today in parts of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as voters turned up in numbers to cast their votes in the historic Bougainville Referendum.

The polling booths opened at 8am in the main centres of Buka, Arawa and Buin and saw hundreds of voters queuing up as early as 7am to have a say in the referendum and vote for either of the two options of Independence and Greater Autonomy.

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis led his people in the regional capital of Buka Town, being the first person to cast his vote at the Bel Isi Park, in the presence of Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka Temu and ABG members.

After voting President Momis attributed the Referendum to the joint efforts of the people of Bougainville and the national government.

He says there is overwhelming support for independence among Bougainvilleans and it is likely that independence will be the outcome that will be deliberated on during the post-referendum consultation.

"If the vote for independence is overwhelming the national government and the ABG will have to consult on nothing other than the option number two and that is independence."

Bougainville Affairs Minister, Sir Puka, says the referendum demonstrates the maturity of Bougainville leaders and Bougainvilleans.

"Dispela dai emi dei bilong rausim haus krai.

"Haus krai bilong crisis. And when we remove this haus krai today, we will create a better space for a better future for Bougainville."

NBC News/ PNG Today

Next : Bougainvilleans living in Port Moresby vote for referendum

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