Ishmael Toroama is set to lead the Autonomous Territory independence talks in eastern Papua New Guinea.
Bougainville, a group of lush, mineral-rich islands in the South Pacific, has undergone little development since the end of a decade-long civil war that claimed the lives of 20,000 people in 1998.
– Joseph Nobetau (@JosephNobetau) September 23, 2020
Much of the dispute has been disputed over how the profits from the lucrative Panguna gold and copper mine on Bougainville Island should be shared – and over the environmental damage caused by mining.
Toroama was a commander of the Secessionist Revolutionary Army of Bougainville, and then worked on the peace and disarmament process.
His victory marks a break with the current administration, led by President John Momis, after the government candidate was eliminated earlier in the region’s preferential voting system.
Last year’s non-binding independence ballot was part of the peace process that ended the conflict, although competing claims remain over development rights for the long-closed mine.