By Keith Jackson
The trend is your friend, it is said, and the trend in counting votes for the next president of Bougainville remains firmly with former Bougaiville Revolutionary Army commander Ishmael Toroama, who continues to move ahead of the field.
With the elimination of the 14th presidential candidate late afternoon it became clear that only the two leaders among the 11 remaining contenders can come close to an absolute majority of 71,725 votes.
The release of updated figures this afternoon showed Ishmael Toroama consolidating his position as the likely winner as he moved out to a 10,500 vote lead over second-placed candidate Father Simon Dumarinu.
READ MORE: Earlier Bougainville vote stories
There were a few changes in the positions of the top 10 candidates during the day, the main one being Peter Tsiamalili moving into fourth place pushing Fidelis Semoso down to fifth.
But it seems that neither candidate can win from here.
Dumarinu remains about 7000 votes ahead of a bunch of three candidates – Thomas Raivet, Peter Tsiamalili and Fidelis Semoso – who all need the current preference trend to switch steeply their way to remain in the race.
Standings after the 14th count:
Ishmael Toroama – 33,007
Simon Dumarinu – 22,474
Thomas Raivet – 14,779
Peter Tsiamalili – 14,324
Fidelis Semoso – 14,038
Samuel Kauona – 9,240
Joe Lera – 9,325
James Tanis – 9,096
Wesma Piika – 5,159
Sione Paasia – 4,973
Keith Jackson is a retired educator, school publications editor and communications lecturer in Papua New Guinea who has managed radio stations in Rabaul and Bougainville and was head of policy and planning in the National Broadcasting Commission at independence in 1975. He has also worked in development and communication roles for UNESCO in Fiji, Indonesia, India, Maldives and the Philippines. He began his PNG Attitude blog in 2006. Pacific Media Centre articles are republished with permission.