Any refusal by Papua New Guinea to ratify the upcoming referendum result could lead to unrest, the Lowy Institute warns

Less than two months out from Bougainville’s historic referendum, observers are warning of a “major security challenge” and regional instability if Papua New Guinea refuses to recognise a vote for independence.

In a research paper by the Lowy Institute, Australia has been urged to prepare for the aftermath of the vote, a culmination of a 20-year peace process which brought to an end the most intense Pacific conflict since the second world war.

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