Posts Categorized: 2015 Election

History making MP faced election challenges

By Winterford Toreas

655-women-leaders-getsi Mrs Getsi (right), Beatrice Tabeu from the UN Women and the ABG member for women in Central Bougainville, Marceline Kokiai. Picture: WINTERFORD TOREAS.

Whenever Bougainvilleans hear the name ‘Josephine Getsi’ the first thing that comes into their mind is that she is the first woman to be elected a constituency member in the Bougainville House of Representatives.

Mrs Getsi created history during the 2015 ABG General Elections when she was declared the member for the Peit constituency in Buka.

Less than a week following her election victory, she was appointed Minister for Community Development in the caretaker cabinet by President Dr Chief John Momis. Her appointment was again another bonus for the people of Peit constituency.

However, her election victory was not ‘smooth-sailing’, up against 11 male candidates. Speaking during the recent UN Women funded women’s election diagnostic workshop in Arawa, Mrs Getsi was able to share some of the struggles and experiences endured whilst on her campaign trail.

She revealed that her biggest challenge was competing against the male candidates.

“Many people think that women should contest the reserve seats while the constituency seats are for men,” Ms Getsi said.

“There were groups of people who also approached me during my campaigns and asked me not to contest as they thought it was for men only.

“But I directly told them that the seat is for all of us as men and women will be casting their votes and the leader that gets elected will be representing both men and women.”

“I was also strong, because I was the only one among men and I did have the positive thought of winning.

“I knew that these male candidates were having grudges among themselves, which gave me the advantage over them.”

Mrs Getsi who is a former primary school teacher and elementary school teacher trainer, added that the limited preferential voting system (LPV) also contributed greatly to her victory.

“While carrying out my campaigns, I did not ask for voters to give me all their first preferences. In some areas that I felt were not very favourable to me I told the voters to give me their second or third preferences.

She added that before embarking on her campaigns, Mrs Getsi and her three-man campaign team would go to some hidden areas where no one was around and pretended to stage their campaigns.

After much practise they saw that they were now ready to go out and conduct their campaigns.

She also revealed that following her election victory, the other hardest part was trying to settle into her new role as both a member of the ABG Parliament and the Minister for Community Development.

“The next challenging thing that came into my mind following my election victory was what I would do when I moved into the parliament?” Ms Getsi continued.

“What shall I do there as a member? Life in politics was a very new thing and experience to me. Yes I must say that I was not feeling very settled at that time.”

However with the help and words of advice and encouragements from President Momis, Vice President Nisira and other members like the North Bougainville Women’s Representative, Francisca Semoso, she was able to finally settle into her life in politics.

“They were there and helped me all along to settle my mind and do whatever we as leaders are supposed to be doing,” Ms Getsi said.

“I must say that I am settled now and I am most confident to do what I must do.”

Apart from these parliamentarians, she has also commended all those that had played a part in preparing her with the knowledge and skills to be perform her duties and responsibilities as an elected member of parliament.

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Electoral commissioner wants permanent roles ahead of crucial period

By Winterford Toreas

Mr Manu addresses women leaders in Arawa.

The appointment of a permanent Electoral Commissioner for Bougainville should be taken as one of the urgent priorities of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

This undertaking was made by the Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, Mr George Manu during the women’s diagnostic elections workshop in Arawa last week.

“Bougainville needs to have a permanent Electoral Commissioner,” Mr Manu said.

“We also need to fully establish our Commission so that we can fully prepare ourselves for the upcoming electoral events,” said Mr Manu.

“We need the manpower to run the elections. We have the Council of Elders’ elections coming up next year as well as the referendum to determine the political future of Bougainville.

“At the moment the Commission does not have the manpower to carry out the upcoming electoral events,” Mr Manu continued.

“That is why it is important that the government quickly appoints a permanent electoral commissioner as well as the establishment of the ABG Electoral Commission.”

He also gave a brief on the hardships encountered by his office while conducting this year’s ABG General Election.

Mr Manu added that many of these issues would have been avoided if Bougainville had a permanent electoral commission established, including qualified staff recruited to perform their assigned duties and responsibilities based on their qualifications and experience.

The diagnostic workshop, which was funded by UN Women and facilitated by the ABG Department of Community Development and Bougainville Women’s Federation, was attended by nearly all the women candidates that contested in the recently-held ABG General Elections.

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Women leaders target more election success

By Winterford Toreas

Participants at the Women in Elections Diagnostic Workshop in Arawa. Picture: WINTERFORD TOREAS.
Participants at the Women in Elections Diagnostic Workshop in Arawa. Picture: WINTERFORD TOREAS.

Women leaders in Bougainville are already setting their sights on getting more women elected in any upcoming electoral events in Bougainville.

Their intentions were made known during the Women in Elections Diagnostic Workshop, held from the 5-9 October at the Arawa Women’s Training Centre.

“We should all work together towards getting more women elected in any upcoming elections in Bougainville,” a spokesperson for the participants said.

The workshop participants had contested the various seats in the Bougainville House of Representatives during the 2015 Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) General Elections and the purpose of their gathering in Arawa was to analyse how they had fared in the elections and coming up with strategies on how best to improve their campaigns in the coming elections.

The theme of this workshop was ‘promoting equality and participation of women in leadership and decision making’ and was funded by UN Women and implemented by the ABG Department of Community Development and Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF).

This intention was reiterated by the ABG Minister for Community Development and member for Peit constituency, the Hon. Josephine Getsi, during the opening ceremony.

“With the help of our good development partners, we will discuss and hopefully agree on the way forward on how we can have more women leaders of Bougainville participate in our highest governing and decision making body, that is the ABG parliament,” Mrs Getsi said.

“I believe that you will be using the recent ABG election as a guide when you diagnose our women’s performances, both positive and negatives.”

Mrs Getsi, who created history as the first female to be elected as a constituency member in the  political history of the ABG, also stressed that it is important for women to equip themselves with the necessary skills in politics and effective leadership to be able to participate meaningfully in issues discussed.

“Therefore, I believe in this workshop we will diagnose and develop some ways forward to help our women leaders in future elections,” she said.

The women leaders called on the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner to improve the electoral process amid allegations of malpractice throughout the duration of the last elections.

Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner Mr George Manu, who was also present throughout the workshop, stated that man of the allegations had been rectified.

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Tireless counting officials ensured swift election outcome

By Jennifer Nkui in Buin


After a full day of heavy rain on Thursday 28 May, counting officials at the Buin counting centre made great progress in the quality checks for ballot papers for South Bougainville in the 2015 Autonomous Bougainville Government General Election.

The heavy downpour caused the place to become muddy affected the start of the counting, but the late start to the sorting of ballot papers did not dampen the spirits of the counting officials.

After the belated start, 4pm Bougainville Standard Time, the counting officials completed quality checks on all ballot papers for the twelve constituencies in South Bougainville in three days under the supervision of the Southern region returning officer, Sam Roroga.

593-ballot-buinAfter being separated into three shifts, the counting officials were able to work according to their shifts to ensure the quality checks is done the right way the first time and with efficiency.

From Torokina, the sorters were able to cover the remaining constituencies in just three days, with Konnou constituency in Buin being the last constituency to have its ballot papers sorted.

With quality checks and sorting completed, the counting for South Bougainville started on the evening of Thursday 28 May at the Buin Counting Centre.

Mr Roroga was very happy with the progress through the various phases and according to the Office of the Bougainville Election Commissioner the counting centre for the Southern region was the first to declare all seats, when the former combatant and women’s representative seats were finalised early in the morning on 4 June.

The shift to sunny weather also enabled the punctuality of the counting officials to ensure good progress of the quality checks.

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Historic election outcome for women in Bougainville

By Marta Jasinska

Voters in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have handed down a landmark decision for women’s equality by electing, for the first time, a woman at an open constituency seat.

An unprecedented 12 women ran for the open seats in the 2015 Autonomous Bougainville Government General Election, signalling a new era for women’s empowerment in the region.

Bougainville now has four new women parliamentarians: Hellen Siumana, Marcelline Kokiai, Isabel Peta, and Josephine Getsi.

Josephine Getsi has won the open seat of Peit, a seat that was contested by both women and men, a first for Bougainville.

Bougainvillean women have had three reserved parliamentary seats since the end of the civil war in 1998, but have been reluctant to run for open seats in previous elections. This reflects the low political participation rate of PNG women by international standards. Women currently hold only four seats of 111 seats in the PNG national parliament.

This election, double the number of women ran in the open seats, compared to the last in 2010.

The Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF), supported by International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), provided leadership training in the election lead-up to encourage and support women candidates. The initiative was funded by the Netherlands Government’s Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) program, as well as the Canada Fund.

Women’s under-representation is not a self-contained issue. It radically inhibits gender equality within any society. Without women in parliament, women’s experiences and perspectives do not inform the decisions and policies that impact society; issues such as maternal health, education, and violence against women are left out of the parliamentary discourse and receive scant attention or funding.

Newly elected candidate Josephine Getsi participated in FLOW-funded workshops including the leadership training for intending candidates, and two mock parliament trainings.

She says that she’s now gone from “a nobody to a somebody”.

Barbara Tanne, Executive Director of BWF, remarked on Josephine Getsi’s development throughout BWF’s FLOW-funded leadership training:

“During the training Josephine was one of the quietest participants – in most cases underestimating herself, but was so enthusiastic about getting into the parliament and leading her people – especially the women who are often left behind,” Ms Tanne said.

“After learning the tactics and effective campaign strategies, she assured me that she was empowered and was ready to face the challenges…She mentioned that she will get BWF to train her officers and further mentor her if she needs help.”

BWF and IWDA will continue to drive Bougainville’s political transformation. Soon, we will publish a pioneering study, funded by FLOW, which critically investigates the opportunities and barriers to young women’s leadership in Bougainville.

These elections are an important step towards a more inclusive, democratic, and effective parliament for Bougainville. Women are simply the best advocates for the issues that affect their own lives, and giving them a voice benefits the community as a whole. Women must have equal standing at every level of society: from local community groups and churches, to local, state and federal government. Change may be slow, but for Bougainville, we are seeing change for the better.

Marta Jasinska is the Communications Assistant at International Women’s Development Agency.

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Momis declared President-elect as all seat results finalised


Chief Dr John Momis has been re-elected as President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, as counting in all contestable seats in the 2015 General Election concluded over the weekend.

After the distribution of preferences from four excluded candidates, Dr Momis had a final tally of 51,382 votes, with Ishmael Toroama the next closest candidate with 18,466.

The North Bougainville Former Combatant was the final seat to be declared, with Ben Malatana Korus the victorious candidate.

409-patrick-nisiraElsewhere in North Bougainville, the Vice-President in the previous second Autonomous Bougainville Government cabinet, Mr Patrick Nisira, was re-elected to the seat of Halia on Buka Island.

Members of Parliament in thethird Autonomous Bougainville Government will be sworn in to office on Monday, 15 June.

All results and declarations are from the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner website and are unofficial, provisional and subject to change.

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All open seats declared as count nears completion


People throughout the region now know who their local representatives will be for the next five years as all open constituency seats have been declared in the 2015 Autonomous Bougainville Government General Election.

Only the Presidential seat and the Woman’s and Former Combatant’s seats in North and Central Bougainville are still to be decided, according to the results posted by the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner.

Incumbent President, Chief Dr John Momis, currently leads the presidential race with 48,852 votes  after first preference count number 106, which represents approximately 47.4 per cent of votes.

Ishmael Toroama and Sam Kauona are the next best positioned candidates with 16,101 and 12,367 votes respectively.

The Former Combatants and Women’s seats are more closely contested. The top two candidates in the North Bougainville Former Combatant seat are only separated by 87 votes after first preference count number 17.

It should be noted that all results and declarations provided on the OBEC wesbite are unofficial, provisional and are subject to change.

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Online platform allows for electoral transparency

obecThe Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC) has utilised an online platform to provide progressive updates from the election tally rooms.

The website (, which is updated multiple times each day, shows the number of votes for candidates in the 40 contestable seats at each stage of the counting process.

The 2015 ABG General Election is the first election facilitated by OBEC, with the 2005 and 2010 elections conducted through the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission.

The website also provides clear information about the limited preferential voting system in Bougainville and how the counting is to be carried out.

OBEC was established to  transparently plan and conduct elections in Bougainville, as required by the Bougainville Elections Act 2007.

The Act describes the procedures and independence of Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, the electoral system, safeguarding the integrity of elections an appeals to the Bougainville High Court on election matters.

The Acting Electoral Commissioner is Mr George Manu, who has over 38 years experience within the public service.

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Momis leads presidential race in 2015 general election

John Momis casts his vote at Hutjena Secondary School.

The incumbent President of Bougainville, Chief Dr John Momis, leads the presidential race at the 2015 General Election as counting continues in Bougainville today.

32,985 first preference votes have so far been counted for the presidential seat and Momis has accrued 17,509 votes so far.

Candidates Sam Akoitai and Ishmael Toroama have the next highest totals, with 4,089 and 3,540 respectively.

Meanwhile the final results have been declared in ten constituency seats throughout the region.

David Vatavi (Taonita-Tinputz) and Fidelis Semoso (Tsitalato) have won seats in North Bougainville.

Three constituency seats have been finalised in Central Bougainville with Rodney Osioco (Kokoda), Dominic Itta (Kongara) and Simon Dasiona (South Nasioi) victorious.

In the South, Dennis Alexman Lokonai (Bolave), Christopher Kena (Lato), Albert Punghau (Motuna-Huyono-Tokunutui), Steven Suako (Torokina) and William Silamai (Baba) have all been elected as the representatives of their respective constituencies.

There is a long way to go before there is a clear picture of who will sit in Parliament House for the next five years, with counting yet to begin in 21 seats.

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Election experiences from Baubake constituency

By Leonard Fong Roka

People rush to catch the transport from Baubake to Buin.
People rush to catch the transport from Baubake to Buin.

A group of young boys fighting over a dish of rice and tinned fish was my first insight into the election campaign strategies and the many issues that face Baubake Constituency in South Bougainville.

The Baubake Constituency seems to have the largest population in the Buin District and for the 2015 Bougainville General Election eight energetic people, (in ballot paper order) Steven Kopana, Jonathan Komba, John Pookey Sigere, Charles Laia, Joseph Buia, Paul Bakoi, Joseph Tooke and Thomas Joseph Lugabai, are contesting the seat.

Around the clock the vying candidates made every attempt to get the people to vote them into the next Autonomous Bougainville Government that this election will produce. Their campaign was a night and day affair as they travelled the constituency from end to end.

At Kanauro Village, where I am stationed, candidates crisscrossed every day outlining all the positive changes they intend to bring to the Bougainville Parliament if mandated, for the good of the Baubake Constituency and Bougainville as a whole.

In Baubake the candidates and the Baubake people are two contrasting groups and there is this societal outlook that can help understand the types of people Bougainville has here.

There is a growing population of Baubake citizens that are now rising above the water of poverty in the post-crisis period. There are also many high profile educated professionals here, an inevitable result of the large population.

The constituency has many social issues including alcohol related violence; a lack of well-established income earning opportunities for the villages and a notably low standard of living from a modern perspective.

People mostly make their living through cocoa farming, some fishing along the coast and, for a lot of the women, marketing their garden produce in Buin Town and local markets within the villages.

In most areas fewer and fewer students turn out to attend schools, whilst a growing number decide to remain in the village with their parents, a result of a need to solve immediate financial difficulties and a lack of parental guidance.

During the election campaign candidates touched briefly on these issues, though most election debate was centred on Bougainville-wide issues, like the referendum and the political future of the region.

One thing unique is that the citizens of Baubake are not easily lured by political figures; here the all the people, from kids up to adults, pay little heed to such figures or talks around their villages.

The Baubake communities are only interested in their daily survival.

It was the candidates that have to track down the people. At Kanauro Village, where I am residing, candidates provided free dinners to those who would be attending their gatherings. Small village business men benefited, as well as the women that were told to cook for little allowances in various sections of the massive villages.

Other candidates with the financial capacity provided free transport for the public on Saturdays, the peak day of Buin people’s town visits. People benefit by saving their hard earned cash by travelling free from their villages to town and back.

One of the strongest forms of campaigning in Baubake was for candidates to do house to house visits. Whenever gatherings for candidates were arranged hardly any people attended, thus candidates have to hunt for people to listen to their political ambitions and strategies for them and Bougainville.

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