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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 6) – Joseph Kabui is Bougainville’s first president.

The province’s former premier and leader of the self-styled Bougainville People’s Congress - an organisation borne out of the struggles of the people during the bloody Bougainville crisis and later incorporated with Waigani recognised leaders to form the now superseded Bougainville Interim Provincial Government - was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday.

He romped home with 37,928 votes — 13,928 votes ahead of second placed John Momis on 22,970 votes.

Mr Momis resigned from the National Parliament to contest the presidency of the first Bougainville Autonomous Government.

Mr Kabui, who was at one time listed by Waigani as its "most wanted’’ during the Bougainville crisis with a price tag on his head, polled strongly in all of the three regions of Bougainville.

He scored 11,394 votes in Mr Momis’ stronghold of South Bougainville — a whopping 14,271 in his own backyard of Central Bougainville — and 12,263 in North Bougainville.

Peace Minister James Tanis polled third with 2710, Finance and Treasury Minister Joel Banam polled 2360 votes for fourth and former church worker Bart Kigina was last with 1623 votes.

Mr Momis immediately disputed the results of the ballot, saying he had engaged lawyers to look at mounting a court challenge into Mr Kabui’s victory.

He charged that some results in Central and South Bougainville had been carried out under "fraudulent circumstances’’.

Mr Kabui denied the allegations outright, describing them as baseless and adding that Bougainvilleans had spoken through the ballot on who they wanted to lead them.

"A new day is now dawning today. We have seen the bad and the worst and I want to assure every Bougainvillean that I never want to see the dark days again and I will not let that happen again,’’’ Mr Kabui said.

"This government has to be for the people of Bougainville and for everyone on the island and all of us have to be credited because we all have done a splendid job.

"I want to let my people know my life is committed to serving the people of Bougainville. I commend all you my people for a job well done. To our police I salute you, you have done us proud and to the donors thank you very much."

After his declaration, the man once dubbed a rebel by Waigani at the start of the Bougainville crisis, announced a caretaker government, naming Selau member Joseph Watawi as his vice president, Bougainville People’s Congress secretary and former resistance fighter Nick Peniai speaker and Central Bougainville women member Magdalene Toroansi in his caretaker cabinet before the formation of the first Bougainville Autonomous Government on Thursday.

The new Bougainville People’s House of Representatives will be inaugurated in Buka on June 15.

International observers who oversaw the elections have given their stamp of approval on the conduct of the elections.

Before leaving Buka at the weekend, they said the elections were properly conducted and was done in a transparent manner. The results reflected the wishes of the people, they said.

June 6, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/



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