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Tokelau: Annan says he respects people’s decision

Tokelau: Annan says he respects people’s decision to keep current status

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that he respected the decision of the people of Tokelau, who voted in a recent poll to remain a Non-Self-Governing Territory administered by New Zealand.

“It is important that the 1,500 citizens of the tiny South Pacific Territory have had this opportunity,” said Mr. Annan’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, noting that a UN monitoring team had concluded that “the referendum was credible and reflected the will of the people.”

Mr. Annan commended the New Zealand Government and the Special Committee on Decolonization for making the referendum possible, Mr. Dujarric said.

“The United Nations will continue working to ensure that the people of all remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories have such opportunities to exercise their right to self-determination,” the spokesman added.

Polls were open from Saturday to Wednesday to allow all eligible voters from the tiny atolls that make up Tokelau to take part in the landmark election.

Last year, the Territory’s main representative body decided to move towards “self-government in free association with New Zealand” but this vote went against that recommendation.

There are currently 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories left on the UN’s decolonization list, while there were 72 such territories when the world body 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 independence in 2002.

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