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.
William Powi (Southern Highlands, People’s National Congress) has been provincial administrator of the Southern Highlands and now moves into the governor’s office. He is also chairman of the provincial forest management committee. Earlier in his career he was principal policy advisor in the prime minister’s department. As provincial administrator he did not get on well with then governor Anderson Agiru who last October said he would institute investigations into allegations of misappropriation of K4 million in provincial government funds by Powi and provincial treasurer Simon Tomba. After returning from medical leave earlier this year, he affirmed he was the legitimate administrator and warned then governor Anderson Agiru to leave his province and his people alone and not play politics with the public service machinery.
Peter O'Neill (Ialibu-Pangia, People’s National Congress) was the first candidate to be declared after a massive win in his seat which was also symbolically important for the prime minister. His post-election ‘reconciliation’ with Michael Somare was an important gesture, as was his total repudiation of the mercurial Belden Namah, and he seems excellently placed to form a strong government. His personal story is well told on the internet so we won’t repeat it here.
Francis Awesa (Imbonggu, People’s National Congress), Minister for Transport and Works, is a long-term politician. In 1994, then a former provincial secretary, he was elected premier of the Southern Highlands. As a law graduate from UPNG, he brought with him experience from the PNG Electricity Commission and the corporate circles where he was an executive. It was during Awesa’s tenure that the royalty benefits from the LNG projects were reviewed, paving the way for increased benefits to landowners.
James Aiya Lagea (Kagua-Erave, Independent) , a public servant before entering politics, first contested the seat in 2002 when voting in Southern Highlands was cancelled due to widespread violence. He contested the supplementary election in 2003, but lost to the incumbent. In 2005 Lagea chaired the organising committee for the celebrations surrounding the 30th anniversary of PNG independence in the Southern Highlands. After succeedig at the 2007 election he was appointed chair of the parliamentary citizenship committee. Last year he was forced to deny embezzling K1 million allocated to rebuild the Sumi health centre in the Kagua district.
De Kewanu (Mendi, Independent) defeated the sitting member to take this seat. He is a business advisor and registered practising accountant who graduated from the University of Technology with an accounting degree in 1986. He has worked with international accounting firms in PNG and Australia. He has been a senior partner of accounting firm, HLB Niugini.
Pesab Jeffrey Komal (Nipa-Kutubu, People’s National Congress) upset sitting MP and PNG Party strongman Philemon Embel, who the local voters were tiring of. “We need to change the leadership now because the people of Nipa-Kutubu has suffered miserably and this unproductive MP can not continue to cling on to the chair which is rightfully belongs to the people of Nipa-Kutubu,” one said.