By Peter Korugl in Port Moresby
The ruling Pangu Pati has drawn first blood in the Papua New Guinea national general elections with its leader and deputy leader retaining their seats on first count alone.
Of the five seats declared as of yesterday, Pangu has a head start with four MPs, James Marape (Tari-Pori); John Rosso (Lae), Philip Undialu (Hela Regional), Manasseh Makiba (Magarima) and the lone People’s National Congress (PNC) winner to date Elias Kapavore (Pomio).
While it is early days in an election marred by violence and alleged fraud, Pangu’s early gain, is a tiny foothold in a process that is expected to be completed by the return of writs on July 29.
At the time of going to press, three more declarations were expected last night or early today.
Marape remains caretaker Prime Minister with his deputy John Rosso also as caretaker deputy PM.
Marape picked up 40,913 votes to retain his seat by a landslide in the first count.
This was 12,000 more votes than the number he picked up in 2017.
Undialu wins big
Undialu picked up a staggering 118,131 votes to come home, which was 79,910 votes more than the number he scored in 2017 elections.
Meanwhile, in Lae, Morobe Province, incumbent John Rosso scored a convicing 26,818 of the primary votes to emerge winner from the total allowable ballots of 57,144.
“Lae Open seat deserves a transparent leader and its needs good precise leadership,” Rosso said soon after his declaration by the returning officer.
“For my people of Lae to give me the mandate on absolute majority of 26,818 on first count is humbling.
“I am going to perform to the best of my ability as the Lae MP and a national leader.”
In Hela Province, Manasseh Makiba picked up 10,481 votes to run out winner, beating the mark he set in 2017 national election by 2500 more votes, while Pomio MP Elias Kapavore was declared winner by Returning Officer John Liskia at Palmalmal.
Pomio had a total allowable 23,355 ballots and Kapavore was re-elected with an absolute majority vote of 11,949 votes from the primary count.
Three other electorates
Meanwhile, three other electorates expected to be declared last night or early today were the New Ireland Regional, Namatanai and Kavieng Open seats.
People’s Progress Party leader Sir Julius Chan had taken a comfortable lead with 25,101 votes.
Treasurer and Pangu Party candidate Ian Ling-Stuckey was leading with 6898 votes and National Alliance candidate and Civil Aviation Minister Walter Schnaubelt was expected to retain his Kavieng Open seat.
Counting in the rest of the provinces are continuing and the Post-Courier online news is bringing the latest updates for readers across the country.
Counting for National Capital District, Jiwaka, Western Highlands and Chimbu has not started.
Western Highlands, Jiwaka went to the polls on Friday while Chimbu polled yesterday.
Peter Korugl is a PNG Post-Courier journalist. Republished with permission.