Hundreds of candidates have bid to be part of Papua New Guinea’s 11th parliament as nominations for the 2022 General Elections started around the country Thursday after weeks of various delays and uncertainty.
While it was a busy day with nominations throughout the country, Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai, who was in court yesterday, was not able to give the exact number of candidates who nominated on the first day.
PNG Prime Minister James Marape, opposition leader Belden Namah, former prime ministers Peter O’Neill, Paias Wingti and veterans Sir Julius Chan and John Momis were some of the big name candidates that nominated in their electorates.
In the restive Hela Province, Marape, leader of the ruling Pangu Pati, nominated in the presence of about 5000 supporters before flying to Komo-Margarima to witness his fellow Pangu man, Manasseh Makiba, nominate to defend his seat there.
Governor Philip Undialu also nominated.
Also nominating to contend the regional seat were former governor Francis Potape and former administrator William Bando
In Southern Highlands, Governor William Powi also nominated with other contestants, but in a stark difference to the last election, which was violent and bloody, all 11 candidates that nominated this week have joined hands to work together for a peaceful, safe elections this year.
In Ialibu-Pangia, O’Neill nominated in the presence of around 10,000 supporters who turned up a day early in Pangia station to witness his nomination.
He said afterwards that all members of his Peoples National Congress had been instructed to nominate yesterday to give them enough time on the campaign trail.
In Mt Hagen, Wingti nominated at 9am followed by other regional candidates, including lawyer John Nonggorr. In Jiwaka, Governor William Tongamp also nominated in the morning, followed by others.
In NCD, Governor and Social Democratic Party leader Powes Parkop and his party colleague Justin Tkatchenko nominated in very low key affairs in the NCD regional and Moresby South seats.
Also nominating was NCD regional contenders Michael Kandiu, former policeman Andy Bawa and others.
In Moresby North-east, sitting MP John Kaupa turned up with hundreds of loud supporters to nominate, so did a number of other contenders for the seat.
In Moresby North-west, former secretary for the Department of Community Development Anna Bais nominated, along with others.
In Bougainville, all sitting MPs nominated to contest the elections in low key affairs, highlighted by the nomination of veteran politician John Momis, with pictures showing him with current regional MP Peter Tsiamalili Jr after their nominations.
Milne Bay got off to a slow and peaceful start as candidates from various major political parties put aside their political differences and mingled together in typical Milne Bay style.
Long-time National Alliance party official Joyce Grant was among those who nominated. She will contest the Kiriwina-Goodenough seat.
Meanwhile, police in the election hotspots of Hela, Enga and Southern Highlands have reported relatively quiet and peaceful first day of nominations in these provinces.
Hela police election co-ordinator Chief Inspector Timothy Pomoso said no major incidents were reported despite the huge crowd that turned up to witness the nominations of Messrs Marape, Undialu, Potape, Baundo and others.
Enga provincial police commander Chief Inspector Epenes Nili said the heavy police presence on the ground had allowed people to behave well with no major incidents reported.
The Southern Highlands capital of Mendi was also peaceful despite the huge turn-out of supporters.