Time for our elected leaders to decide


WHAT started out as a race between more than 3000 candidates from 45 political parties is now down to a little over 100 tickets to parliament.
This week, the country expects to know the complete makeup of the ninth parliament.
There has been some confusion over the number of parliaments Papua New Guinea has had in its political history.
The PNG Electoral Commission said the 2017 election would be our ninth parliament since independence in 1975.
So let’s count back. The first parliament was in 1977-1982, then 1982-1987 (second); 1987-1992 (third); 1992-1997 (fourth); 1997-2002 (fifth); 2002-2007 (sixth); 2007-2012 (seventh); 2012-2017 (eighth) and 2017-2022 (ninth).
Everything started off smoothly from the issue of writs on April 20, to nominations and polling – then it nose-dived when counting started.
No one said this election was going to be smooth-sailing but with some of the issues we had experienced in past elections people assumed that whatever was to come would be minimal and manageable.
Throughout the nomination and campaigning periods, and even during the early days of polling, the news was not that bad, a sign people said that Papua New Guineans have matured. Sure there had been isolated incidents of violence with several people reported killed in election-related violence in West New Britain, Gulf, Chimbu, Southern Highlands, Port Moresby and Eastern Highlands. But there was still hope that this time was different.
Many predicted it was the calm before the storm. The odds were against us.
The stakes this time were extremely high. It was not just a power thing anymore; money, loads of it, was in the offing.
Yes, all focus was on the Highlands region but more so in Hela following the SOE on the guns moratorium. As it turned out, Hela was one of the first provinces in the region to have all its seats declared with no major problem reported.
But not so with its neighbour Enga where lives were lost, including those of two police officers while a third was medevaced to Port Moresby. Civilians believed to be supporters of rival candidates were also among the casualties.
Then there was the riots in Mt Hagen city where the airport was forced to close, shops were looted, buildings burnt and a basic services shut down. We now have chaos in Kundiawa town.
Eighty writs were returned to the governor-general on Friday. So far, 101 seats have been declared with 10 to go.
Whatever transpires between today and when parliament sits will only be known publicly when members from both camps fly into Port Moresby.
The formation of the government is now what everyone is looking forward to.
The people of PNG have gone to the polls and expressed their choices. It is now up to their elected leaders to decide who will lead this country in our ninth parliament.

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