2 Jun 2005

Winners declared in nine seats in PNG's Bougainville province

4:37 pm on 2 June 2005

A close observer of the elections in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says counting is still under way but winners have already been declared in nine seats.

Counting of ballots in the first election for the first autonomous Bougainville Government began at six o'clock yesterday and continued through the night.

It has been suspended to give officials a rest, and resumes this evening.

But the Post Courier Buka bureau chief, Gorothy Kenneth, says winners have already been declared in nine seats.

They are Thomas Keriri, for the Rau constituency; William Eporta for Torokina; Leo Reivasi, Terra; Pais Taehu for Atolls; Rodney Osioco Job for Kokoda, and Dominic Itta, for Kongara, Andrew Topensi for Nissan; Tony Siona, for Bolave; and Michael Otoroa, for Lato.

Ms Kenneth says provisional results, with many votes to be counted, have Joseph Kabui well ahead in the contest for president, followed by the former provincial governor, John Momis.

Ms Kenneth says counting's going well, with minor problems only.

"The one that held up a lot of time last night in the North Bougainville counting centre, was North Bougainville's returning officer, stationed in Buka before this particular ballot box was counted, he announced there were 26 ballot papers that actually belonged to another constituency, so they made an agreement last night to agree to it being informal votes."

Gorothy Kenneth.