PNC bags 20

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THE People’s National Congress Party has 20 seats in the bag, and remains confident of winning at least 30 by the end of the week to form the government with its coalition partners.
And, as reported yesterday in The National, Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae has allowed the Electoral Commission to move the deadline for the return of writs from yesterday to Friday (see separate story on P2). There are 55 seats yet to be declared as at 6pm yesterday.
Senior PNC member and Tari-Pori MP James Marape told The National last night that the party should end up with the highest number of seats and be invited by Sir Bob to form the government.
“Our number is reaching the 20 mark now,” Marape told The National.
“By the end of this week, I’m positive that we will track into our 30s.”
He said the party had faced a “heavy anti-PNC campaign run by our opponents nationwide”. But it has stood by its policies.
“There’s a huge popularity of our policies right across the nation, and as a result, you can see that our candidates are doing very well,” Marape said.
“Even in those seats that we lost, we’ve lost with a good placing of second or third. So as a party, we’re totally confident in the way that we’ve done business in the last five years. Our current coalition partners, who have won their seats, have maintained touch with the prime minister and the shape and form of government is taking place.”
As at 6pm yesterday, the National Alliance party was second on nine seats following the declarations of William Nakin (North Bougainville), Salio Waipo in Angoram and Ross Seymour in Huon Gulf.
In third place was Pangu Pati which increased to seven after Kennedy Wenge came back to win the Nawae seat he lost 10 years ago.
Declared MPs of the PNC and its coalition partners including independents are gatheriing in Alotau for a working retreat to form the government.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the Alotau Accord II would build on the success of the past five years.
“The nation is entering a new era of stability with great opportunity to create more jobs and continue with enhanced development in communities around the country,” he said.
“Government policy consultation is underway in Alotau, where elected members of PNC and our coalition partners will chart an agenda for the coming five years.
“Our core policies will continue along with our commitment to strengthen free education and universal healthcare.
“We will build on the advances we have made in improving law and order around the country, and enhance training for the men and women of our disciplined forces.
“Very importantly, we will take national infrastructure to the next level for Papua New Guinea.
O’Neill said the Alouta retreat would also look to the growth sectors to create more jobs.
“The global tourism market potential of Papua New Guinea is enormous, but we have to work harder now to build the hotels and the infrastructure that will enable tourists to visit our country for a unique experience,” he said.
As the first sitting of the next Parliament draws nearer, the Prime Minister has again called for sensible debate, not bitterness and slander, to focus on national development.
“Now is the time to move away from the bitterness of personal politics. Some members will criticise the Government as is their democratic right, but it is time for maturity in debate,” he said.