PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 16) - Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye yesterday created history when he was declared winner of the Kandep Open seat with a landslide victory after the primary votes count.

[PIR editor’s note: Kandep is a district in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province.]

Mr. Polye was ahead of his nearest rival by more than 20,000 votes after the first preference votes were counted sending more than 10,000 Kandep men and women onto the streets of Wabag yesterday to join him in celebrations. Polye polled 69.09 percent of the first preference votes and was declared winner at 1 p.m.

According to Enga provincial police commander Teddy Tei, seven disputed boxes were not counted and what happens to them was dependant on a decision from the returning officer. Mr. Tei said Polye scored well over the required percentage margin to win and had to be declared winner yesterday. Attempts to get comments from both the returning officer and the election manager were unsuccessful but Polye scored 21,820 votes and his nearest rival and lawyer Alfred Manase polled 3,149 votes after the counting of the 62 ballot boxes for the seat. His declaration brings to three the number of winners declared so far in these elections.

The first declarations were of the Manus Open and Regional seats on Saturday. Michael Sapau won the regional race while Job Pomat won the open seat.

Polye told the media after his victory the National Alliance party stipulated that the region which returned the highest number of MPs in the new Parliament will get the party leadership and therefore the invitation to be prime minister if the party also returned the largest number of MPs to be invited to form government. He said however, he was not interested in the leadership issue right now and would leave that to consultations with other leaders from the other regions.

When asked, he said: "If we get the numbers, I believe I will humbly be a contender for the of the National Alliance party leadership... that is not to overlook other leaders from other parts of the country."

Polye said NA had got to deal with the longer term and choosing of leadership would be based on that. He said the party was here to stay as it was an institution and not a party dreamt up overnight and to be gone the next day.

Meanwhile, Polye thanked his Kandep people for the overwhelming support and confidence given to him. He said the only thing he could do was to give his best in terms of leadership and basic services to the electorate. These services, he said, would be road infrastructure, health, education and a community empowered to self-sustainability and economic independence.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, yesterday congratulated Polye over his convincing win. Somare said the win was a clear indication of the people of Kandep’s confidence in the leadership of Polye and the National Alliance Party over the last five years.

"I thank the people of Kandep for your overwhelming support that has enabled the Electoral Commission to declare Polye the winner just after the first count of the votes under the Limited Preferential System," Somare said.

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