6 Jun 2005

Bougainville President elect, Joseph Kabui, prepares for new role after landslide win in elections

6:46 am on 6 June 2005

The President elect of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, is due to be sworn in later this week after securing a huge victory in the vote for a new autonomous government.

Election officials in the Papua New Guinea province declared Mr Kabui the winner by a margin of at least fourteen thousand over his nearest rival, former Bougainville Governor, John Momis.

A New Zealand observer of the elections, Victoria University's, Dr Andrew Ladley, says the scale of Joseph Kabui's win is significant:

"This is a landslide victory, his main rival was the governor elected under the Papua New Guinea constitutional system, the provincial govenor, and he has been substantially defeated. What it means, particularly for the independence process is that had agreed to accept autonomy, is that its being led by somebody who has very strong credentials and that gives, autonomy its best shot, in my view, in the future."

Dr Andrew Ladley, the Director of Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies

Election manager, Mathias Pihei, said the vote, which began on May 20 and lasted for two weeks, had gone very well with very little disruption and a good turnout had ensured a fair and balanced result.

The poll on the Papua New Guinea island of around 180,000 people was a key step in the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Under the agreement a high level of autonomy has been granted to Bougainville along with the promise of a referendum on independence from PNG in 10 to 15 years.