The National, Friday July 6th, 2012
By JEFFREY ELAPA
IALIBU–Pangia MP Peter O’Neill has retained his seat after passing the 50%-plus-one target yesterday.
He had tallied 32,424 votes after count 82 at 1pm. His rivals were way behind – Eke Lama second on 5,252 and Raphael Noip on 5251.
Officials said 46,289 votes had been counted with 25 ballot boxes in dispute. But it is understood that they contained less than 15,000 ballot papers, which officials said were mostly from areas which supported O’Neill.
Returning officer Michael Ariando said the undisputed ballot boxes had all been counted while the 25 disputed boxes would have to be cleared by the Electoral Commissioner.
The 25 boxes – five from Kewabi, five from Kaware, five from East Pangia and 10 from South Wiru local level government – were alleged to have been hijacked.
Counting for the other electorates in the province continues at a very slow pace. Counting in the past seven days started around 11am and finished around 4pm.
Meanwhile, 81 boxes for the Nipa, Nembi Plateau and Poroma were cleared for counting yesterday.
As of count 36, Steven Andayo was leading with 4,473, Kossy Sororo on 3,810, Tony Kila on 3,334, Philemon Embel on 2,332, Stanley Wap on 2,273, Jeffery Komal on 2,119 and David Ongol on 2,015.
In Mendi open, Pastor Isaac Joseph was leading with 8,052, Terry Gaso on second place with 7,025, Maso Hapon on 6,107, De Kewano on 6,072, Michael Nali on 5,680 and Steven Mendopo on 2,235.
Sitting MP James Lagea was leading with 8,754 votes in Kagua-Erave open, David Basua on 4,042, Albert Noria on 3,781, Komeali Ropa on 3,256, Japhet John Yano on 2,446 and Nemo Yalo on 1,846.
MP Francis Awesa is leading with 5,905 in the Imbonggu open seat, followed by Pila Niningi on 5,623, Steven Temo on 2,884, Pias Aopea on 1,752 and Cedrick Kengi on 1,732.
For the regional seat, PNC candidate William Powi is leading with 12,622 votes followed by independent candidate Joe Kobol on 10,567, lawyer Vincent Mirupasi on 6,495, Jerry Kiwai on 5,991 and Sylvester Komba on 4,597.