Bougainville president wants independence from PNG by 2025
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Bougainville's president says the region must be independent from Papua New Guinea in just four years time.
Ishamel Toroama made the demand at the start of a two-day meeting with PNG's Prime Minister James Marape to discuss Bougainville's future after the overwhelming vote for independence during the region's historic referendum in 2019.
"Bougainville must have its independence within the next four years through the election of members to the parliament of the independent state of Bougainville by June 2025," he said.
The meeting is the first in what will be a series of negotiations between officials from the PNG and Bougainville governments to work out how they will respond to the referendum result.
The referendum result is non-binding and under the Bougainville Peace Agreement the decision to grant Bougainville independence rests with PNG's parliament.
Constitutional lawyer and long-time Bougainville government advisor Anthony Regan said while Bougainville wants independence, it's a sensitive subject for the PNG government.
"Because they fear that any independence for Bougainville would be regarded as a precedent for other areas that are wanting autonomy or special arrangements," he said.
"And it could be the beginning of a much more serious unravelling of Papua New Guinea's identity".