The National, Tuesday July 24th, 2012
By GABRIEL FITO
PAPUA New Guinea’s founding Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare scored a landslide victory, beating his nearest rival for the East Sepik by more than 42,000 votes on Saturday.
Sir Michael’s victory comes months after his political enemies unceremoniously dumped the so-called “father of the nation” from parliament last year.
He polled 93,815 votes, well ahead of Pangu Pati candidate Allan Bird on 48,737 and People’s National Congress candidate Greg Maisen on 15,423 votes.
“It is a big honour to be in parliament for the last 44 years,” Sir Michael told a huge crowd outside the Wewak Council chambers and thanked them for their support over the years.
“It is with humility and deep endearment to my people of East Sepik that I give thanks to generations of families … for their unwavering support and confidence over 44 years.
“You voted me as chief minister in 1968, four times I was prime minister and today you return me to the ninth parliament after I was unceremoniously removed from parliament by a rogue regime,” Sir Michael said.
“The people of East Sepik felt the pain and insult that members of parliament had illegally denied their right to a representative on the floor of parliament.”
In response, the crowd shouted: “Belhat vote ya! (angry vote yah!).”
“I have represented your grandfathers and mothers and today I represent the thousands of youths that feel a connection to me,” he said.
“They called me stranger in parliament, where will they go? Bomana is waiting for them,” Sir Michael replied to a rousing applause from the crowd that shouted back: “Salim ol long Boram na bai yumi lukim ol (send them to Boram and we will see them).”
“The first statement I will make in parliament is, I am not a stranger in the house because I built this parliament when you were still wearing your shell kambang (pants), now I will send you back to wear your shell kambang again,” he said.
Aitape-Lumi member-elect Patrick Pruaitch, Peter Wararu Waranaka, his son Arthur, Lady Veronica with children and grandchildren were among those who witnessed Sir Michael’s declaration on Saturday morning.
Counting for the 2012 election is expected to end next week, with all 111 seats expected to be declared by Friday.