New Caledonia and Bougainville: Towards a New Political Status?




Maclellan, Nic
Regan, Anthony

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Canberra, ACT: Dept. of Pacific Affairs, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University


Over the next few years, major political — and possibly constitutional — changes can be expected in two of Australia’s closest neighbours, as New Caledonia and Bougainville move towards a new political status. Both sets of islands suffered periods of armed conflict — in the 1980s for New Caledonia and in the 1990s for Bougainville. In spite of the widespread calls for independence, there were significant divisions within the population and both conflicts ended with innovative political and constitutional agreements, including delayed referendums on their final political status. Since 1998, each has undertaken a lengthy transition towards a decision on self‑determination and the possible creation of a new sovereign and independent nation. These transitional periods of economic and political reformation are now coming to a head. Under the 1998 Noumea Accord, New Caledonia is scheduled to hold up to three referendums between 2018 and 2022 to determine a new political status, with the first vote to be held in November 2018. After a decade‑long transition following the 2005 election of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), and 2015 elections that resulted in the return to office of President John Momis, there are currently plans to hold a referendum in Bougainville in June 2019.






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Open Access

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