Victorious woman always confident of winning Bougainville Open Seat

4:57 pm on 23 September 2020

Theonila Roka Matbob says she believed she would win her Ioro seat in Bougainville even before she entered the race.

Theonila Roka Matbob

Theonila Roka Matbob Photo: Human Rights Law Centre

In the just completed election the 30 year old has become just the second woman in Bougainville to win an open seat.

She said, since finishing university in Port Moresby seven years ago, she had worked with remote communities, running a learning and counselling service for children.

Matbob said it was the people she was meeting and working with, who encouraged her to stand.

"Most of the time I am travelling communities talking to people, and those that are never reached by the government.

"Those are the people that I spend a lot of my time working with, so it was a call from them and a request that came from them that actually motivated me to consider politics in this general election."

Matbob's central Bougainville seat of Ioro encompasses the Panguna mine, which some people are advocating should be opened immediately to foster the economy on Bougainville.

But she said this should not be considered until what were called "legacy issues' - namely the environmental and social damage wrought by the Rio Tinto mine, were rectified.

Earlier the president-elect, Ishmael Toroama, said a decision on Panguna was entirely in the hands of the landowners.