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PNC surges ahead

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By MALUM NALU and GYNNIE KERO
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill, who has been returned to Parliament for the fourth time, is least worried about what his critics say about him as he begins planning the shape of the next government.
His People’s National Congress party has already picked up five seats, and he remains confident of again leading the next government.
“There are thousands around the country who have their views about me. But I have to get on with my job,” he said in Mendi, Southern Highlands after being declared the victor on Saturday – winning 78 per cent of the votes.
“I am not going to be worried about whether I am pleasing one person or not. I will be getting straight back to work.”
Three other party leaders — Pangu Pati’s Sam Basil (Bulolo), National Alliance party president Walter Schnaubelt (Namatanai) and Dr Allan Marat (Melanesia Liberal Party) — also won their seats.
Two current Cabinet ministers —Paul Isikeil (Markham), Byron Chan (Namatanai) — lost their seats, while Health Minister Michael Malabag (Moresby North-West) is way behind the leaders in the electorate.
O’Neill said: “Some of our Government members have lost their seats.
“You can see the Opposition members are also winning their seats by very good margins.
“This is a clear indication that the people want stability in their electorates and throughout the country in general.  “I am hopeful that with the declarations coming over the next few weeks, we will see the PNC being invited to form the government.
“I look forward to working with people who care about education, delivery of health services and infrastructure.”
Also on Saturday afternoon, National Alliance Party president Walter Schnaubelt won the Namatanai seat in New Ireland, which he had contested unsuccessfully in 2002, 2007 and 2012 against his cousin Byron Chan.
Schnaubelt polled 20,474 against Chan’s 12,799. Pangu Pati picked up two seats in Morobe yesterday with Basil in Bulolo and former MP Koni Iguan winning Markham back from Housing Minister and PNC member Paul Isikiel.
Basil and Iguan immediately flew to Bulolo for Basil’s declaration.
Basil polled 26,184 votes on primary counts yesterday afternoon.
He was declared by returning officer Raune Jombert at the St Peter’s Primary School Hall in Bulolo.
Last night, another PNC-Pangu epic was being staged in Finschhafen, where the eliminations had narrowed to Speaker and PNC candidate Theodore Zurenuoc against Pangu’s Renbo Paita Towo.
Two more People’s National Congress MPs were declared last night.
Manus Regional MP Charlie Benjamin retained his seat while Job Pomat defeated Manus Open MP Ronnie Knight
Both Benjamin and Pomat were leading into the primary votes which went into eliminations.

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