There is a possibility of a new member being added to the global family of nations. Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has voted overwhelmingly for independence. A two-week referendum was held on the island. It ended on the 7th of December. It was a non-binding referendum, which means the PNG government does not have to make it law. However, PNG should now consider acting on the result of the vote. Voters voted for greater autonomy or full independence. Over 181,000 people cast their vote and nearly 98 per cent of them voted in favour of independence.
Bougainville is the largest of the PNG chain of islands. It is geographically part of the Solomon Islands. It used to be called the Republic of North Solomons. It has a population of 250,000 people. Bougainvilleans started a fight for independence in the 1960s. This was a decade before PNG got independence in 1975. Bougainville became part of PNG in 1976. This started the Bougainville Civil War between 1988–1998, in which 20,000 people lost their lives. The Prime Minister of PNG said his government was committed to adhering to the poll's result.