FORMER PREMIER ELECTED IN BOUGAINVILLE RACE

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By Aloysius Laukai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 30) – The newly elected Regional Member for Bougainville, Leo Joseph Hannett, has vowed to work with the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in Papua New Guinea and his government to strengthen the Bougainville peace process.

Speaking after being declared the winner of the Bougainville Provincial seat last Friday, Mr. Hannett said there was no time for politicking and called on all leaders to work together to develop and reconstruct Bougainville again.

Mr. Hannett said he would be meeting President Kabui and his government soon to discuss ways to further cement their commitment to work in unity for the good of all Bougainville and Papua New Guinea citizens.

The new Member for Bougainville will seek ways for peace and reconciliation with the leaders of Mekamui, late Francis Ona’s group that had been blamed for sporadic law and order problems on the island since peace returned.

He said Bougainville cannot continue to be divided and the time was right for all Bougainville to unite, set aside their differences and work as one people.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President Joseph Kabui welcomed Mr. Hannett’s election to fill the vacancy following the resignation of John Momis.

Mr. Kabui said that his government believed in uniting its people thus he created a grand coalition that also had National Alliance Party members in his cabinet.

He said Bougainville should not allow party politics to destroy what it struggled to set up over the past years.

Among the overseas residents to send congratulatory messages were senior Bougainville citizen Paul Nerau from Brisbane, Australia and the former Bougainville Governor John Momis.

Mr. Momis sent his message from Fiji where he is working at the University of South Pacific in Suva.

Mr. Hannett was a former Bougainville premier and one of the first 1970s Bougainville independence activists.

He polled 17,419 votes, 59.39 percent, to beat independent candidate Simon Pentanu, who finished with 11,911 votes, or 40.61 percent. Six candidates contested the by-election. Voting was under the Limited Preferential Voting system.

January 31, 2006

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