The ruling Pangu Pati has drawn first blood in the PNG General Elections 2022 with its leader and deputy leader retaining their seats on first count alone.
Pangu has a head start with four MPs, James Marape (Tari Pori); John Rosso (Lae), Philip Undialu (Hela Regional), Manasseh Makiba (Magarima) and the lone PNC winner to date Elias Kapavore (Pomio).
While it is early days in an election marred by violence and alleged fraud, Pangu’s early gain, is a tiny foothold in a process that is expected to be completed by the return of writs on 29 July.
Marape remains caretaker Prime Minister with his deputy John Rosso also as caretaker deputy PM.
Marape picked up 40,913 votes to retain his seat by a landslide in the first count. This was 12,000 more votes from the number he picked up in 2017.
Undialu picked up a staggering 118,131 votes to come home, which was 79,910 votes more than the number he scored in 2017 elections.
O’Neill wins seat
Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has surpassed absolutely majority with 37,501 votes on Tuesday and declared winner of the Ialibu-Pangia Open seat.
O’Neill thanked his supporters for their unwavering commitment to democracy.
“There has been a lot of incentives given to the voters of Ialibu Pangia to switch allegiance from myself to others and I want to thank my people for their steadfast commitment to the electoral process.”
O’Neill went on, “This will be my fifth term of Parliament as their elected representative, and I could not be more humbled or happier.”
“The elections are causing all of us in Papua New Guinea deep concerns. We are genuinely at a loss to explain the magnitude of election fraud and destruction that is occurring to life and property. We must be hopeful and continue to believe in democracy even if at present it feels like it is ebbing away from us. Stay strong.”
PNG Police Commissioner says upsurge of lawlessness
Meanwhile, PNG Police Commissioner David Manning has fired the first warning shot in the hunt for candidates who were involved in disrupting the national elections in Enga.
He is deploying a multi police and army taskforce to hunt down 15 suspected candidates and bring them to justice in violence torn Enga.
He said Enga police have identified 15 candidates who are alleged to have instigated criminal acts that have affected the PNG General Election 2022.
“This will allow for search warrants to be applied for on their persons, known associates, financial assets, and material property and if need be, arrest warrants,” Police Commissioner David Manning said.
“We are not time bound by the elections. If these candidates think that we are, then they are sadly misinformed. We plan to have this Taskforce deployed in stages over the coming days. In the last 72 hours there has seen an upsurge in the rate of lawlessness in parts of Enga.”
“The situation is very serious, and I have grave concerns for the lives of many innocent people there who have become victims of barbaric and animalistic attacks,” he said.
PNG PM condemns election violence
Caretaker Prime Minister James Marape has condemned the violence being perpetrated upon State properties in certain parts of the country.
He made the remarks in light of election-related incidents in Enga Province and the latest in Markham and Kabwum in Morobe Province.
Marape stressed that these incidents are now before police and those responsible, including candidates, will be dealt with.
In a statement, Marape said he is in the process of sending an additional 500 members of the disciplined forces to hotspot areas in order to protect State properties, especially in the Highlands region.