20 Nov 2008

Bougainville elections suggests fragmentation in PNG province

4:33 pm on 20 November 2008

An Australian academic, with long links to the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, says there may have been a splintering in political factions ahead of its presidential election next month.

A by-election will be held following the death of the province's first president, Joseph Kabui, in June.

There are 14 contenders, mostly men who had had prominent roles during the years of civil war on the island.

Professor Ted Wolfers, who teaches politics at the University of Woollongong, says this may indicate a new fragmentation.

"One of the great skills of [President] Kabui was to build coalitions, was to bring people together to form them, if you like, into a group that would support him. What strikes me about this list we have got in front of us is the degree to which that doesn't seem to have been passed on to people who might reasonably have been seen themselves perhaps as being on the same side are trying in their hands at getting elected."

Ted Wolfers