Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i

Elections set for May 7

By Gorethy Kenneth
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 7, 2010) - Seven candidates will contest the second Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) presidential election.

They include a former Bougainvillean politician in national parliament, the autonomous government, businessmen and community leaders.

Polling starts on May 7. Writs will be returned on June 9.

ABG President James Tanis will defend his seat, as he goes up against John Momis, Reuben Siara, Robert Atsir, Martin Miriori, Sylvester Niu and a lone woman candidate, Magdalene Toroansi.

[PIR editor’s note: After the conflict between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville ended in 1997, New Zealand mediated negotiations and in 2000 a finalized peace agreement was created establishing the Autonomous Bougainville Government and a referendum for future political independence for Bougainville. Elections for the first Autonomous Government were held in 2005 and now elections for the second government are up. See previous story.]

In 2008, a by-election was held which saw Mr. Tanis win the seat. There were 14 candidates altogether. It followed the death of ABG’s first President Joseph Kabui in June 2008. Mr. Kabui’s elder brother, Miriori who was a former international spokesman for the secessionist movement, was one of the candidates. He will be contesting the same seat this year.

By-election candidates included Nick Peniai, Edward Okuwau, Gerard Sinato, Sam Kauona, Clarence Cozxiune, James Tanis, Ruben Siara, Samuel Akoitai, Sylvester Niu, Joel Banam, Raymond Hakena and Patrick Leslie. This year more than 180,000 eligible voters will have a lesser choice of voting for their leader because the number of candidates compared to the by-election has halved. President Tanis, Reuben Siara, Martin Miriori and Magdalene Toroansi come from Central Bougainville, while Momis comes from South, and Robert Atsir and Sylvester Niu come from North Bougainville.

Under the updated common roll, North Bougainville region has the highest number of eligible voters followed by South and Central Bougainville. Magdalene Toroansi is currently the woman representative in the ABG Parliament for Central Bougainville. She gave up the reserved seat to test the women of Bougainville for equal votes for a woman to lead this second presidential seat.

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