Marape first politician re-elected in PNG ballot with landslide win

Caretaker PM James Marape (right)
Caretaker PM James Marape voting ... reelected for Tari-Pori with more than 40,000 votes. Image: Donald Nangoi/PNG Post-Courier screenshot

By Miriam Zarriga and Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby

Caretaker prime minister James Marape has retained his Tari-Pori seat as the first politician to be declared for Papua New Guinea’s 11th National Parliament with a landslide victory after the first count ended in Hela province.

Quality checks confirmed Marape scoring an absolute majority of 40,913 votes from the five local level governments in Tari-Pori.

Runner-up Justin Aluja Haiara polled 7226 votes and Benson Angore was third with 6477 votes.

Marape was declared member re-elect at 4.49pm Sunday in Tari by Tari-Pori Returning Officer Willie Kara.

Shedding a tear, Marape’s voice broke as he thanked the people of Tari-Pori for returning him for a fourth term in the Eleventh parliament.

“Thank you to my people of Tari-Pori, I want to thank my family for standing by me, especially my wife Rachael and my children,” he said.

Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai, when asked why counting was allowed in Tari-Pori ahead of other Highlands centres, said: “It was allowed as gazetted.”

Gazetted and approved
He said the decision to have Hela Province go to the polls and declare first was gazetted and approved.

But he did not answer questions on why the province started counting first while the other provinces were yet to poll, especially in the Highlands region.

Sinai gave a rundown of the schedule to date of what is happening around the country starting with the declaration of Hela and polling for Southern Highlands.

“In most parts of the country, polling was held according to the polling schedule,” he said.

“However, as has been the case in previous elections, and as is provided for by law, slight variations were necessary to enable polling teams to address local issues and ensure that polling takes place under the best conditions possible.”

Counting began for Hela Regional seat and Tari-Pori Open electorate on Friday and by Sunday afternoon, Marape was declared.

Declaring “I love Tari-Pori”, he wasted no time in promising his people that for the next five years, he wants unity and peace for Hela and he wants education to become the key focus of the district and province.

‘Lay down your arms’
Marape said he wanted more Hela people to become businessmen and women.

“Lay down your arms, work together for unity and peace, bring your children to school and become business oriented people to be financially independent,” he said.

“I will try my best not to let you down in the next five years.

“I want to work with whoever wins the Hela Regional person seat to deliver Hela into a new age of change.”

The counting for Tari-Pori was completed with quality checks done in Tari before noon.

Election manager John Tipa said once quality checks were completed, a formal announcement would be done.

He said the absolute majority for Tari-Pori was 30,635 plus one with Marape receiving 40,913 votes.

Meanwhile, Hela provincial police commander Superintendent Robin Bore said three Papua New Guinea Defence Force platoons with police mobile squad and local police officers were manning the counting venues in Tari-Pori.

Miriam Zarriga and Gorethy Kenneth are PNG Post-Courier reporters. Republished with permission.

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