Ex-army boss still in lead

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FORMER Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Ishmael Toroama is maintaining his lead in the contest for the seat of President in the Autonomous Bougainville Government election as counting draws to a close.
The return of writs to Government House is scheduled for Thursday.
After the 19th elimination yesterday, he was leading with 41,668 votes, followed by former Central Bougainville MP Simon Dumarinu on 28,120 votes.
Others in the running include former PNG Sports Foundation executive director Peter Tsiamalili Jr on 17,302 votes and retired army colonel Thomas Raivet on 17,106 votes.
Fidelis Semoso has 16,069 votes and former Bougainville Regional MP Joe Lera on 11,924.
The absolute majority is 66,096, according to the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner on its Facebook page. Whoever passes the absolute majority mark will be declared the winner.
Meanwhile a group of women staged a “silent” protest during the counting, complaining of alleged vote-rigging.
Bougainville police commander Deputy Police Commissioner Francis Tokura said the women held placards silently at about 12.30pm outside the Hutjena United Church counting hall.
They dispersed after being told that any complaints on the election process should be directed to the court of disputed returns after the election.
Spokesman Peter Manuka said they were not protesting against anyone.
“We are protesting against (how) the Bougainville Electoral Commission is managing the counting process,” he said.
“We suspect that the counting process is not transparent. We are not concerned about who wins the President’s seat. We are concern about the counting process.”

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