Vote on Micronesia state breakaway postponed

POHNPEI, 26 FEBRUARY 2019 (AFP) – A referendum next month on independence for the Micronesian state of Chuuk has been postponed, officials in the Pacific nation said Friday, February 22, defusing an issue seen as a potential flashpoint between China and the United States.

The vote to decide if Chuuk should secede from the Federated States of Micronesia was scheduled to be held alongside national elections on March 5.

But chief legal counsel for the Chuuk state legislature Eliesa Tuiloma, said the vote, which was originally supposed to take place in March 2015, had been put off again until a date yet to be determined.

“Yes, it’s been delayed,” he told AFP. “This will allow us to look more closely at the constitutional implications”.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of more than 600 islands in the northern Pacific scattered over thousands of kilometres (miles) but containing a combined landmass of only 700 square kilometres (270 sq. miles).

Chuuk is the largest of the FSM’s 4 states and, with about 50,000 people, has around half the country’s population.

Some locals have long been resentful the national capital Palikir is in Pohnpei state and believe they do not receive a fair share of government resources, leading to a push for independence.

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