UN to monitor independence vote in tiny Tokelau

UN to monitor independence vote in tiny Tokelau
08.02.06 4.00pm
UN election experts are headed to tiny Tokelau, a New Zealand protectorate in the South Pacific, to observe its referendum on self-government beginning later this week, the United Nations said today.

The team of four UN aides is traveling to the territory, which occupies three small atolls and has a population of 1500, at the request of New Zealand, which has administered Tokelau since 1926, UN chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The referendum is to unroll over a five-day period, beginning February 11 in Apia, Samoa, for Tokelauans living in Samoa. Tokelau is located about 500km north of Samoa.

Eligible voters on the atolls of Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo can cast their ballots starting next Monday and ending the following Wednesday.

Tokelau is one of 16 non-self-governing territories left on the UN decolonisation list, including Gibraltar, Western Sahara and Guam.

At the time the United Nations was established in 1945, there were 72 such territories. The last one to exercise its right to self-determination was East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.