Basil dead

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Sam Basil

By Staff Reporters
NOMINATIONS for Papua New Guinea’s 11th general election have been deferred by a week after Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil was killed in a car crash on Wednesday evening.
PNG electoral commissioner Simon Sinai announced that the election writs had been signed and issued by Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae.
“However, nominations had been deferred to Wednesday following a recommendation by the National Executive Council (the Cabinet/Government),” he added.
Prime Minister James Marape said it was the first time in the country’s history that a sitting deputy prime minister died in office.
The election writs were signed and issued as scheduled at 4pm yesterday in the Government House.
Basil, the leader of United Labour Party formed after he left the ruling Pangu Pati in post-general election 2017, died in Bulolo Hospital while waiting to be airlifted to Lae late Wednesday night.
Wau Senior Inspector Leo Kaikas said there were six people in the vehicle, with Basil on the driver’s seat, when the two-vehicle collision occurred between 6pm and 7pm.
Kaikas said Basil was returning to Lae after a trip to Watut and was unable to avoid an open-back Land Cruiser at a bend just past a wire footbridge.
He said Basil lost consciousness and a public vehicle rushed him and the injured to Bulolo Hospital while Manalos Aviation was called in for a medevac into Lae with a doctor from Angau Hospital.
Kaikas said Basil was pronounced dead in Bulolo Hospital on Wednesday night soon after his close protection officer (bodyguard) died from his accident injuries.
“Basil’s wife and the others are critically injured and have been taken by police to Lae the same night,” he said.
Kaikas said Basil’s body was airlifted to Lae and taken to a funeral home at 14-Mile.
Police Commissioner David Manning said the driver of the second vehicle involved in the accident was currently in police custody.
“He suffered extensive injuries,” he said.
“As soon as he is in stable condition, he will be charged with dangerous driving.”
Basil, a three-term Member of Parliament, is the eighth incumbent MP who has died in the 2017 to 2022 parliamentary term.
He was first elected as Bulolo MP in the 8th general election in 2007 under the People’s Progress Party ticket but resigned from the party on Jan 10, 2011 to join the Papua New Guinea Party.
His untimely death has shocked and rocked Papua New Guinean politics at such a crucial electoral environment, with citizens going to the polls from July 9 to 22.
Marape said: “PNG is shocked and saddened at the tragic passing of Basil.
“We pray for God’s Hand on the country at this sad time.
“It is a big loss to his family, people of Bulolo, Morobe, United Labour Party and PNG as we try to come to terms with his passing.
“He was a strong member of our present generation of leaders in Government who have our country in our heart.
“What makes his untimely passing even sadder is the fact that it happened only hours before nominations (would have) open for the general election.
“The ruling Pangu Pati I now lead is due to the hard work of Basil in 2014. He single-handedly resurrected the party.
“Basil led Pangu into 2017 general election to win six seats in Morobe and others around the country, bringing it back to (political) life.”
Marape said Basil would be given a State funeral befitting of his status as deputy prime minister.
Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill said Basil was a skillful politician who resurrected Pangu Pati and built the United Labour Party into a political force.
“I am shocked and saddened at the untimely passing of one of PNG’s greatest young leaders,” O’Neill said.
“Basil was a genuine man of the people and served his electorate with distinction and was unrelenting in his pursuit to improve the lives of his people.”