Toroama widens lead in Bougainville presidential election

4:55 pm on 10 September 2020

A former commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army has widened his lead in the progressive count for the presidential election in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region.

Ishmael Toroama speaking at PNG think-tank, The National Research Institute.

Ishmael Toroama speaking at PNG think-tank, The National Research Institute. Photo: The National Research Institute

So far only votes in southern Bougainville had been counted but Ishmael Toroama had a nearly 5000 vote lead over the second placed James Tanis.

In third was the former PNG MP, Simon Dumarinu.

Toroama is running for president a second time - in 2015 he came a distant second to the retiring John Momis.

Toroama said he was confident of winning, having had good backing in both central and north Bougainville.

He confirmed if elected his first priority would be establishing law and order.

"Because it is paramount in Bougainville. That is the first thing that I would like to see happening, so that we have confidence in us Bougainvilleans and even the international community."

James Tanis, who's running second, said it was too early to draw any conclusions about who would win.

Tanis, who had held the post before, said once the central and north votes were counted, the situation may be quite different.

But he conceded that Toroama deserved to be feeling confident.

"The gap between him and me is big but already we have seen there have been a lot of surprises.

"So I will still maintain my stand to say I will not draw any conclusions because we have two regions to cover. But at the end of the day when the process is completed we all have to respect whoever is the winner. It's the people's choice and all of us have to work with whichever president is elected," Tanis said.

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Photo: twitter

Punghau out

Meanwhile a prominent member of the outgoing Bougainville cabinet, Albert Punghau, has lost his Motuna Huyono Tokunutui seat in the Siwai district.

Punghau was the minister overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement and played a key role in the lead up to last year's referendum.

The MP elect is Zacharias Nungnung, who, after the sixth and final elimination got 1837 votes, easily defeating Charles Kutuka, with Punghau third.