INDEPENDENT NEWS

Voting On Self-Govt For Tokelau Moves To Atolls

Published: Wed 24 Oct 2007 10:14 AM
Voting in UN-monitored ballot on self-determination for Tokelau moves to atolls
Voting in the referendum to determine whether Tokelau, a group of three small and isolated atolls, should have self-government in free association with New Zealand has moved to the atolls themselves, the United Nations team of observers monitoring the ballot has reported.
Some 195 people cast their ballots on Fakaofo atoll yesterday, the monitors reported, which means voting in the referendum has now been completed at two out of four polling stations.
Electoral and Government officials from New Zealand and Tokelau arrived in Fakaofo on Monday morning after a 30-hour boat journey from Apia, Samoa, where votes were cast by the local Tokelauan expatriate community on Saturday.
Yesterday's voting took place on Fale island, one of two islands which comprise Fakaofo atoll, but the ballot box and portable voting booths were also taken to the other island, Fenuafala, to allow four elderly people to cast their votes.
Voting moves to Nukunonu atoll today and then Atafu atoll tomorrow, after which the votes will be counted and the final results announced.
It is the second time in less than two years that Tokelauans are voting to determine whether the Non-Self-Governing Territory, which has been administered by New Zealand since 1926, should have self-government in free association with New Zealand.
About 60 per cent of voters backed that option in a referendum held in February 2006, which did not meet the two-thirds majority required by Tokelau's representative body, the General Fono.
The UN observers have said 789 people are eligible to vote in this referendum, an increase of 23 per cent. Officials from Tokelau and New Zealand have cited greater information about the process and the recent attainment of adulthood by many young Tokelauans - voters must be aged over 18 - as the main reasons for the spike in numbers.
Tokelau, which lies about 500 kilometres north of Samoa in the Pacific Ocean, has a total population of about 1,500 people and a land mass of approximately 12 square kilometres.
If Tokelauans achieve the two-thirds majority during this referendum, a date will then be set for a "day of self-government." This will probably be in mid-2008 to allow New Zealand enough time to make the necessary legislative amendments.
There are currently 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining on the UN's decolonization list, compared to 72 such territories when the Organization was established in 1945. The last Non-Self-Governing Territory that exercised the right to self-determination was East Timor, now known as Timor-Leste, which gained its independence in 2002 and joined the UN that same year.
ENDS
More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

Next in World

At UN, youth activists press for bold action
By: United Nations
Tongan PM 'Akilisi Pohiva dies, aged 78
By: RNZ
UK PM to Suspend Parliament; Queen's Speech
By: 10 Downing Street
Gordon Campbell on the Hong Kong protest movement
By: Gordon Campbell
4 days until intergenerational climate strike
By: School Strike 4 Climate
The Nation: Simon Shepherd Interviews James Shaw
By: The Nation
Coal use increasing under Labour-Green policies
By: New Zealand National Party
NZCTU calls on employers to release staff for Climate Strike
By: New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Interim Climate Change Committee Call for evidence launched
By: Interim Climate Change Committee
Climate change is here - we all need to do our part
By: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
Preventing climate change cheaper than dealing with damage
By: University of Queensland
Winners of 2019 Global Youth Video Competition
By: UNFCCC
Extinction Rebellion: Leaving it to the Students
By: Binoy Kampmark
Major IPCC report: ‘The climate crisis is an oceans crisis’
By: Greenpeace
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media