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Bougainville is still enthusiastic for sitting in the Papua New Guinea parliament

Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea). Photo: cruisemapper.com. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

PORT MORESBY, Dec 14, 2020, RNZ. Bougainville might be close to independence but the enthusiasm for sitting in the Papua New Guinea national parliament remains high. Six candidates are to contest the regional seat made vacant when Joe Lera resigned to contest the Bougainville presidency, Radio New Zealand reported.

It is one of four Bougainville seats in the PNG parliament.

Three of the candidates standing had challenged for the presidency in Bougainville’s election in August.

One is Peter Tsiamalili, who is now a Bougainville businessman with agricultural interests, but previously headed the Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation.

Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation CEO Peter Tsiamalili Junior says the Sports Foundation will issue membership passes for all stakeholders and staff to enter its facilities.Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation CEO Peter Tsiamalili Junior says Photo: Facebook / Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation
He is also the son of a noted former Bougainville administrator who went on to be a prominent PNG diplomat.

Tsiamalili finished third in that presidential race and said, now, with the backing of the man who did win, Ishmael Toroama, he sees the role as a public relations one for Bougainville at the national level.

“Kind of being more like a spokesperson for the president and having an insight into the national parliament. And then obviously getting the north, central and south working together with that member – and that’s my view,” Tsaimalili said.

He is younger than most of the other Bougainville MPs in the PNG and thought he could use this to bring them together, “I think I will have the strength to be the common denominator with our three regional members, pulling them altogether, adding that unified front that allows a solid foundation for our future.”.

Former Catholic priest Simon Dumarinu was briefly an MP in the PNG national parliament after the elections in 2017, only to lose it in an electoral challenge from Sam Akoitai.

He was a significant factor in the race for the Bougainville presidency back in

August, finishing second in a race that included 25 candidates.

Dumarinu said he will work with Ishmael Toroama to see that the consultations over the 98% independence endorsement are quickly concluded, without damaging the relationship with the rest of PNG.

“We need to clarify that in the consultation process and I want to support him [Toroama] in every way, so that the bottom line is peace in Bougainville. We have to arrest this conflict, this war, whatever came in the past, and settle and make it as friends [with PNG], we need to move on,” Dumarinu said.

Albert Punghau also ran in that presidential race.

He had been the minister of Peace Agreement Implementation in the previous administration under John Momis.

Bougainville’s Minister for Peace Agreement Implementation, Albert PunghauAlbert Punghau Photo: supplied
In that position he played a critical role in organising the referendum and wants to continue the work.

“I feel that I can provide the leadership to put the two governments together as Melanesian brothers Bougainville and Papua New Guinea together to resolve this question of independence once and for all, now that we know that the result is independence. And I think that as Melanesian brothers we should sit down together like our forefathers did in the past and talk about it,” Punghau

There has never been a woman elected from Bougainville to one of the four PNG parliamentary seats, but former journalist, Llane Munau, is aiming to change that.

Munau said she was encouraged to stand by the women of Bougainville, “I want Papua New Guinea and also the world to listen to what the women of Bougainville are talking about right now, and that is something, that if I am elected I know that I can be the voice of the women and of the youth of Bougainville. But not only Bougainville, PNG I think is one of the only three countries in the whole world that does not have women politicians in the parliament.”

Munau has worked for a number of publications throughout PNG and communication is important to her.

She said what the women of Bougainville are looking for is better information flows from the top.

Munau said what they do glean from what is happening in government is typically via word of mouth and she wants to ensure improved, more transparent communication.

Another candidate is Peter Manuka from Buin in south Bougainville.

He said he is standing to empower the grassroots.

Manuka said the way to do this is through support for small to medium business enterprises in the rural areas.

He said he backs Ishmael Toroama’s vision for rebuilding the economy.

Manuka said before any of this can happen, law and order must be restored so foreign investors feel welcome – again echoing President Toroama.

The sixth candidate Ian Michael Mapya had previously worked as the practice manger for Kumul Lawyers in Port Moresby.

Port Moresby has committed $US2.2 million dollars to run the election,.

Polling will run for the last two weeks in January with the result expected at the beginning of February.

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