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Bougainville independence referendum: The risks & challenges

Observers congratulate Bougainville people on election

International observers Chris Evans and Louise Starr at the distribution of ballot papers in BuinJOINT INTERNATIONAL OBSERVER GROUP

AN international observer group observed the polling period of the 2015 Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s Election following an invitation from the Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Governments.

The group included representatives from Australia, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

International observers were provided operational and coordination support by the United Nations and observed polling across almost all constituencies in North, Central, and South Bougainville from 11-20 May.

The international observer group congratulates the people of Bougainville for their commitment and enthusiasm as they participated in an election that has been conducted in an often challenging environment.

Polling observed by the international observer group was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.

The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner and election officials were committed in performing their duties and polling stations were generally run in an effective and transparent manner.

The presence of trained candidate-appointed scrutineers at polling stations and of trained domestic observers further enhanced the integrity of the voting process.

The Bougainville Police Service and Community Auxiliary Police were diligent throughout polling, which enabled a safe environment for the people of Bougainville to exercise their right to vote.

The international observer group observed in some cases features with the electoral roll and voting procedures that could be improved. The observations of the international observer group will be brought to the attention of the electoral authorities.

The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner is to be commended for its responsiveness to discrepancies with the electoral roll. The international observer group commends the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner’s response to allow as many eligible Bougainvilleans as possible, the opportunity to vote in line with Bougainville’s electoral laws.

We thank the people of Bougainville, the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, election officials, and the police for warmly welcoming the international observers.

The international observer group will continue to observe the election during the counting period commencing on 26 May.

We look forward to a continued peaceful process leading to the responsible formation of government by elected candidates.

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