PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 5) – Former Wapenamanda Member of Parliament Sir Pato Kakaraya is the new Governor General of Papua New Guinea.

Sir Pato was elected the nation's eighth Governor General by Parliament yesterday, beating fellow knights Sir Paulias Matane and Sir Albert Kipalan in a drama-filled election.

Sir Pato has Acting Speaker Jeffery Nape to thank for his victory.

During the first ballot, all three candidates recorded 30 votes each from the 90 members of parliament present in the chamber.

A second ballot was called to break the tie, but before this could be taken, Middle Ramu MP Ben Semri, reinstated by the Supreme Court the previous day, was allowed into the Chamber to take his seat.

Sir Albert scored 31 votes in the second ballot from Sir Pato (30) and Sir Paulias (30), forcing another ballot to decide which of the candidates with the lesser votes would be eliminated.

But the result of this ballot was again tied 46 each for both, prompting Acting Speaker Nape to announce that he was casting his vote in favour of Sir Pato along regional lines because all the other top jobs in the country were occupied by people from Papua, Mamose and New Guinea Islands regions.

With Sir Paulias eliminated, it was left to the two Engans to fight it out. Sir Pato beat Sir Albert 52-39 votes in the final ballot.

Sir Albert was elected Governor General in September, but his election was declared null and void after the Supreme Court found that the proper procedures were not followed in that election.

Acting Prime Minister Moses Maladina immediately congratulated Sir Pato on his election, saying he had no doubt he would preserve the integrity of the office.

Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta said both Sir Pato and Sir Albert had contributed to national development in their time, and it was unfortunate that only one can go through to be the Queen's representative in PNG.

Enga Governor Peter Ipatas admitted all MPs from the province had voted for Sir Albert, but welcomed the appointment of Sir Pato as another victory for Enga.

Sir Pato, 60, hails from Sambakmanda village, Wapenamanda, Enga province.

He represented the electorate of Wapenamanda in Parliament for 15 years between 1972 and 1987.

He held various ministerial portfolios in the Somare, and later the Wingti governments, after breaking ranks with Pangu Pati to form the Peoples Democratic Movement party.

After losing the Wapenamanda seat to Masket Iangalio in 1987, he tended his coffee estate and became heavily involved in church and community activities before deciding to contest the vice regal post.

Sir Pato would be sworn into office on January 20, 2004 in Parliament in a ceremony to be conducted by Chief Justice Sir Mari Kapi.

December 5, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/


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