A possible new member may be added to the global family of nations. Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has voted for independence. A referendum was held on the island. Over 181,000 people cast their vote and nearly 98 per cent of them voted in favour of independence. It was a non-binding referendum, which means the PNG government does not have to make it law. However, PNG should act on the result.
Bougainville is the largest of the PNG chain of islands. It is part of the Solomon Islands and used to be called the Republic of North Solomons. Bougainvilleans started a fight for independence in the 1960s. Bougainville became part of PNG in 1976. This started the decade-long Bougainville Civil War, in which 20,000 people lost their lives. The Prime Minister of PNG said his government was committed to respecting the poll's result.