In brief

PNG parliament to vote in 2023 on Bougainville independence referendum result

Chamber ballot required in secession process of Pacific Ocean country

Marape (left) and Toroama (right) during the unveiling of the agreement.
Marape (left) and Toroama (right) during the unveiling of the agreement. Author: Autonomous Bougainville Government
The Parliament of Papua New Guinea is set to vote in 2023 on the result of the Bougainville independence referendum, which in 2019 recorded a 98% vote in favour of secession. A ballot by the PNG parliament is a requirement of the process that should lead to Bougainville’s independence.

The agreement, called the Kone Era Covenant, was signed by Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, and Bougainville, Ishmael Toroama. The deal follows an earlier pact in 2021 in which both governments agreed to determine Bougainville’s final status between 2025 and 2027.

“The Era Kone Covenant states a timeframe for implementing the referendum results,” Toroama said after the signing.

The Bougainville autonomous government has also begun work on drafting the constitution of its future independent state.

The 2019 referendum was non-binding, but the Bougainville government has insisted since the day the results were known that a 98% vote for secession makes it politically unfeasible for the territory to remain within Papua New Guinea.

Bougainville has been an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea since 2005. The establishment of an autonomous government and the subsequent independence referendum were two of the agreements signed by the PNG government and Bougainvillean representatives in 2001 to put an end to a 10-year war.

The agreements established that the final say on granting Bougainvillean independence would rest with the Papua New Guinea Parliament, regardless of the referendum outcome.