IN the second
The outcome won’t be known until 9 June, when the 40 member parliament will be elected and, most importantly, the identity of the next president of the autonomous province will be known.
There are seven presidential candidates and I provide pen pictures of them here, together with their own descriptions of their place of residence and vocation, in the order of their appearance on the ballot paper.
Robert Atsir (Kona-Selau/Suir) Business Executive
Robert is a young
The appellation ‘villager’ against John
Momis’ candidature is one of the great understatements. The
recently retired PNG Ambassador to
As de facto chairman of the
Constitutional Planning Committee that drafted PNG's Constitution, John was an
architect of independence. He subsequently served in a number of ministries
including a period as the first Minister for Decentralisation. In 1997, during
In 2005 John stood for the
James Tanis, born in 1965, was raised in
Reuben Siara (Arawa) Lawyer
Reuben is a former rebel leader and was a
key adviser to
However Reuben says that "too much blame" was put on Bougainville Copper which was operating under an agreement backed by the PNG government and former Bougainville Governor, John Momis, who he blamed for not taking the initiative to review the agreement.
"They (the company) may have taken a big slice but they were dealing under an agreement," he said, adding that the civil war was due to "foreign domination, exploitation and ethno-nationalism".
Martin is the older brother of
the late first President, Joseph Kabui. He was Secretary of the Bougainville
during the civil strife in which Bougainville rebels fought PNG troops in whay
proved to be a debacle for the PNG defence forces and a disaster for the people
Martin had been actively involved in Panguna landowner issues against Bougainville Copper since 1982 and his brother Joseph had entered politics primarily to represent the interests of people directly affacted by the mine.
Martin co-chaired the first forum immediately after the
ceasefire in March 1990 and in
1991 he reported the worsening
As fighting on the ground escalated and
tensions increased, the Solomons government became increasingly concerned for
the personal safety of Martin and his family and in 1996 evacuated them to
Sylvester Niu (Haku) Refrigeration Mechanic
Sylvester has contested elections in
Itona Toroansi (
Magdalene, seen here faciltating a group at a women's workshop, is the only woman contesting
the presidential election, and she brings strong credentials to her nomination.
She was a former senior PNG official in
“She was a very committed public office-holder and a strong principled woman leader who was displaced by an impatient political leadership,” Reginald Renagi writes.
“Toroansi diligently stuck to her principles and diplomatically tried to persuade the then President to do the right thing by her people and province. This resulted in her being displaced within the president's team as this unassuming but competent woman could not be bullied or swayed from her well-intentioned and good-governance stance.”
It will be hard for Bougainvilleans to bring themselves to elect a woman leader but, if they do, they will find they have a strong and determined person at the helm of the troubled province.