Regular voting ends as Bougainville considers independence

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — They voted in mountain villages and on remote atolls. Even 15 youth who live in the jungle and wear bright Upe hats as they undergo traditional training to become men were given the chance to vote.

All across the Pacific region of Bougainville, people have been voting in a historic referendum to decide if they want to become the world’s newest nation by gaining independence from Papua New Guinea.

Regular voting ends on Tuesday while any remaining postal votes will be accepted through Saturday. The results will be announced in mid-December.

The referendum is nonbinding, and a vote for independence would then need to be negotiated by leaders from both Bougainville and Papua New Guinea. The final say would then go to lawmakers in the Papua New Guinea Parliament.