WE’RE PROFILING EACH OF the newly-elected members of Papua New Guinea’s parliament. Every day we’re examining one or two provinces and taking a close look at the men and women who will run PNG for the next five years.
The information in this series is derived from public sources and, in some cases, may not be accurate. We invite readers to offer corrections and additional material by contacting the editor here.
Anderson Agiru (Hela, leader People's United Assembly) is the inaugural governor of the LNG and minerals-rich Hela province. He was formerly governor of the Southern Highlands from which Hela was formally separated prior to the election. Agiru has been variously criticised for being “a dreamer” and for benefitting personally from the great wealth of the region he governs. Last year he said he would sue The National newspaper for defamation after allegations were made he said were damaging to his personal character and integrity. The article in question alleged that more than K40 million from the Southern Highlands provincial treasury had been abused within a period of three months. Agiru was chairman of the provincial finance and planning division. He said the article was published despite denials by provincial treasurer Kevin Puruno. “The article was baseless and had no facts,” Agiru said.
Francis Potape (Komo-Magarima, PNG Party) has a masters degree in engineering and is the Petroleum and Energy Minister. After the 2007 election the former MP for the seat challenged Potape’s election. In 2008, the National Court ruled there had been 4,882 votes illegally cast for Potape and that as a consequence, the election was void. Potape was subsequently re-elected at a by-election. In November last year Potape was arrested and charged by Task Force Sweep on one count of conspiracy to defraud the State and another count of misappropriation. The charges relate to payments of K60,000 personally paid to Potape by the Komo Magarima District while he was chairman of the Joint District Planning and Budget Priority Committee.
Philip Undialu Nogoni Hene Nai (Koroba-Lake Kopiago, Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party) defeated the sitting PNG Party MP John Kekeno
James Marape (Tari, People’s National Congress Party) was an education and national planning minister in the Somare group before quitting last year. He first contested the Tari seat in 2002 but voting was cancelled due to widespread violence. He contested the supplementary election in 2003, losing to the incumbent MP in a contest marred by the bashing of a polling official by his supporters. He unsuccessfully challenged the result in the Court of Disputed Returns. He eventually won the seat in 2007. n addition to this role as an MP he is chairman of the Hela Transitional Authority and an elder and occasional preacher at the Korobosea Seventh Day Adventist church. The election in Hela has been savagely criticised in the media for its flaws. Observers said ballot boxes in at least three locations were destroyed. In two other locations, polling boxes were hijacked held for several hours, before being returned stuffed with completed ballot papers. Observers also said they had seen children casting votes and that the use of indelible ink to mark voters was patchy at best. Andrew Alphonse, a local journalist from Tari said it was a joke. "People could not vote and then there are other supporters coming in for other candidates and then they are just causing the problem, they are trying to fight," he told the ABC.