The election of former broadcaster and woman activist, Julie Soso Keke has created history in Papua New Guinea politics. And it was one of many surprises that were sprung in the 2012 elections in the Eastern Highlands Province. Mrs Keke’s victory is historic because she becomes the first Highlands female MP and the second Governor after Dame Josephine Abaijah, who was Governor of Milne Bay in the late 1980s.
“I thank the Eastern Highlands people for their vote. The people want change and they have spoken through the ballot. In the next few weeks, I will met with the councillors and MPs from the province to work out a strategy to address serious issues in the province,” Mrs Keke told a press conference yesterday. Mrs Keke said politicians must come down to the level of the people and address pressing needs in the province, like fixing the deteriorating road conditions.
“There is no service delivery to the rural population. All the roads and essential government services are gone,” she added. Mrs Keke is a Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party member. Her party has joined hundreds of well wishers in congratulating Mrs Keke on her historic win. Her win brings to two the number of female MPs that THE Party has picked up from the 2012 national elections.
THE Party endorsed four women candidates around the country and its leader Don Pomb Polye and the party caucus were over the moon. At the press conference they gave yesterday, Mr Polye said Papua New Guinea was seeing something they had never witnessed in PNG politics before.
“The win by the women candidates came at the back of much debate on the reserved seats in Parliament. This should be proud moment for PNG, Pacific and the developing countries. “I ask the Eastern Highlands Administration to throw their support behind the Governor for change is unprecedented. They have to adopt to the change in the leadership,” Mr Polye said. Meanwhile the elections in EHP threw up a few surprises. Who would have thought Sir Barry Holloway would perform the way he did. A former kiap and MP in the early years of PNG’s independence, the elder statesman outperformed the huge field. Sir Barry may be old but the results proves beyond reasonable doubt that he does command a lot of respect in EHP, especially in his home Kainantu. Another surprise is the performance of the PNG country parties. The Goroka based party has won a seat in this election, some 40 years since its last MP the late Sir Sinake Giregire grace the floor of parliament. Just how does a political party survive that long without a representative in parliament? Perhaps the other 45 political parties that entered the election this year may want to explore the answer. The declaration of Julie Soso and Noah Kool as Governor for Chimbu brings to the conclusion of election 2012 in the Highlands. Both newly elected MPs have joined the coalition government, bringing its strength on the floor of parliament to 94.
[Post Courier by By PETER KORUGL]
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Monday 13th August, 2012
I would like to congratulate Julie Soso, the Governor-elect for the Eastern Highlands Province. It is also fitting that I congratulate Delilah Gore and Loujaya Toni for winning their respective seats in Sohe and Lae Open. I don’t know you nor have I heard of you. Your victory has set many misperceptions right and you have shown the whole of PNG and the nations of the world that we are a vibrant and developing nation.
I hope that one day I meet you and congratulate you all in person. It’s a victory for all women in Papua New Guinea. Your victory has told the world that Papua New Guinea women are not second class that can beg for reserved seats in Parliament but are equal partners to their men in working together for our country Papua New Guinea’s future social and economic development. May God bless the people of Eastern Highlands for being the first Highlands province in PNG to elect a woman Governor which will go down in the history books. No wonder out of all the five Highlands Provinces I have noticed that people from the Eastern Highlands are very loving and peaceful.
I appeal to all people from the Eastern Highlands living in the settlements in Port Moresby and Lae to do away with your bows and arrows when there is an ethnic clash because we must respect the law. This is because you are the people chosen by God to show the country the light of peace, love, humility, respect, and equality. Thanks also goes to Dame Carol, Janet Sapr, Margaret Parua, and other great women of this country for fighting for your rights. Your cries have touched many hearts and as a result we have three new women MPs in Parliament now.
Port Moresby, NCD
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Tuesday 07th August, 2012
Papua New Guinea is in good hands
ONE message reverberated from the chamber of the Big Haus in Waigani to all corners of the country when the Speaker and Prime Minister were elected on Friday: Papua New Guinea is in good hands!
Congratulations Speaker Theo Zurenuoc and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill! The people have acknowledged your leadership and given you their blessing by elevating you to two of the country’s three highest public offices as the heads of the legislature and the executive government respectively. There was a collective sigh of relief from the seven million people when the votes were taken. And for a good reason too. After 10 months of crisis management, followed by two months of what many have described as the country’s worst election, the people have reason to celebrate.
There are other reasons why Friday’s inaugural sitting of the 9th Parliament will be forever etched in the country’s history books.
The unity demonstrated by our three former PMs and elder statesmen Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan and Paias Wingti is the best thing to have happened for PNG. The election of two of our women MPs Delilah Gore and Loujaya Toni is another reason to celebrate.
Mr O’Neill’s message in his acceptance speech is loud and clear: “(Being PM) is a big responsibility but I will not shy away from it... We stand ready to govern and I stand ready to lead.”
Sir Julius described Mr O’Neill as “a patient young man”. Sir Julius said: “The most important thing is to restore confidence and trust in leadership and institutions of government. It’s time for all of us to grow up and stop playing games; stop fighting and move forward.”
THE Party leader Don Polye echoed the same sentiments: “I’ve advocated reconciliation... and I’m happy to see reconciliation today. But reconciliation must not only be between leader to leader, party to party. We must find some of the values that we have lost on the way: honesty, good governance, quality leadership, people participation, gender equality and a strong desire to help our people.”
URP leader William Duma agreed: “We formed government 12 months ago for a good cause... We went from crisis to crisis and the election speaks volumes. We need to bury the past and move forward... The coming together of our three former PMs is a good sign. For these great statesmen to put aside their differences speaks volumes. How can we go wrong when we have leaders like them?”
There is another reason why the people should look forward to the future with hope and confidence. For many of them, former DPM and leader of PNG Party Belden Namah was a destructive loose cannon in the last 12 months.
But what he and said on the floor of Parliament on Friday must have surprised most people.
Mr Namah explained that he acted to protect PM O’Neill and his Government; he apologised to Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and the people; shook hands with all the leaders of the Government front bench and other MPs; and congratulated and addressed Mr O’Neill as “My Prime Minister”. This is a sign of a true leader. A vibrant democracy is a prerequisite, but we can’t have one if there’s no vibrant Opposition. Mr Namah has the credentials to head such a public watchdog. The celebrations will soon be over then the real work will begin. As PM O’Neill quite rightly put it: “I want to be judged by how much we can deliver.” The people will be watching very closely, and they will be the judges.