06th August, 2012
A third woman has been elected to the PNG parliament in one of the biggest boilovers of the 2012 national election. Julie Soso, standing for the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party, is a prominent community leader in the Eastern Highlands. A former broadcaster, she is a women’s rights advocate , president of the Women’s Council and deputy chair of the Eastern Highlands AIDS council. In an unexpected victory, she defeated political veteran Barry Holowe (Independent), who as a kiap was elected to PNG’s very first parliament, the House of Assembly, in 1964.
Contributor David Kitchnoge points out two major firsts: that Julie Soso is the first female parliamentarian to be elected in the Highlands and also the first woman governor ever. The Eastern Highlands provincial seat was one of the last in PNG to be declared. There was a huge field of male candidates but Julie Soso, having obviously done her homework on the electoral calculus, managed to win after the allocation of preferences.
Ms Soso joins Loujaya Toni (Lae) and Delilah Gore (Sohe) in the national parliament. Her strength of character, career experience and commitment to rights issues singles her out as formidable ministerial material. The appointment of one of the three elected women as a minister is now presenting itself as something of a test for prime minister Peter O’Neill.