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The National

Dr Temu scores decisive victory
By Daniel Korimbao
December 17, 2003 

Dr Puka Temu yesterday retained the Abau Open seat in a decisive victory over his rivals in the first election held using the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system.

Dr Temu was declared winner of the by-election for the Abau Open electorate at 5.48pm in Port Moresby to reclaim the seat he lost following a Court of Disputed Returns ruling in March this year.

In doing so, he becomes the first person in PNG to win an election using the newly introduced LPV system.

His victory is also a boost for the National Alliance that now has 22 members in Parliament.

Dr Temu polled a total of 9,113 votes during counting of the second preference votes to clinch victory on the second day of counting.

After the votes in 18 of the 23 ballot boxes had been counted, the former minister had polled 6,978 votes to be ahead of his nearest rival Kilroy Genia who had 2,780 votes.

Having secured 54 per cent of votes at that stage, and with the other four candidates struggling with 800 or less votes, Dr Temu seemed certain to attain the absolute majority required (50 per cent of total votes allowed) to win without having to count the second and third preference votes.

But Wanigela strongman Desmond Baira threw a spanner in the works when he polled 3,403 votes (90 per cent of votes) from two boxes from his stronghold area to leapfrog Mr Genia into second place and reducing
Dr Temu’s tally to 48.9 per cent of total votes.

Dr Temu added a handsome 1,506 votes from the last three ballot boxes to his tally, but that wasn’t enough to get him over the 50 per cent mark.

After all the first preference votes were counted, Dr Temu polled 8,911 votes (or 47.9 per cent) of the 18,199 votes allowed, followed by Mr Baira on 4,177 (30 per cent), and Mr Genia on 3125 votes (17 per cent), followed by Vagi Mae (984 votes), Onea Thavale (901 votes), and Gideon Aruai (101 votes).

Returning Officer Frank Gabi declared that no candidate had secured the absolute majority of 9,100 required to win, and ordered the counting of the second preference votes.

Under LPV law, Mr Aruai who had the least number of votes and was eliminated first, followed by Mr Thavale.

Dr Temu managed only 202 votes from a total of 1,017 second preference votes distributed from the two candidates, but that was all he needed to get past the 9,100 votes required to win the seat.

The final outcome was delayed by about 30 minutes after counting officials failed to account for four of Mr Thavale’s 916 second preference votes.

Mr Gabi later explained that a figure error could have occurred during counting of the first preference votes, but said the discrepancy would not affect the final result.

Acting Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen said although the discrepancy would not affect the result, election officials could not afford to make such mistakes in future, especially in very closely contested races.

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