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PNG, Bougainville agree on referendum question

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Papua New Guinea police (L) prevent students from marching from University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, June 8, 2016. REUTERS

SYDNEY (Xinhua) – Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the autonomous region of Bougainville have come to an agreement about what question will be asked at next year’s independence referendum.

Described by PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as a “simple but momentous occasion,” the vote comes as a condition of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a treaty which ended the multi-layered armed conflict from 1988 to 1998.

“Both sides have agreed to the question we will put to the people of Bougainville,” Mr O’Neill told local television station EMTV at the signing ceremony on Friday.

“The question is going to affirm our commitment to the fulfilment of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.”

The questions to be asked will be placed on ballot papers during the referendum vote. The ballot papers will be printed both in English and Tok Pisin.

With a budget of 34 million PNG Kina ($10.1 million) set aside, the target date of the vote has been declared as June 15, 2019.

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