Launa Wins Poll

By Zachary Pe
Published July 2nd 2004 in The National

PETER Launa aims to clean out corruption in Chimbu and restore credibility in governance and leadership in the province.

Mr Launa said this in Kundiawa after he was declared winner of the Chimbu Provincial seat after a tense race closely fought out with Fr John Garia of the National Alliance party.

The United Resources Party candidate, a God-fearing man from Chuave, said his victory was God's plan and he would dutifully and faithfully serve the people of Chimbu.

"I thank God for this victory. My mission is to clean up the mess in Chimbu. I want to fight and rid this province of corruption. I want to restore credibility in governance and leadership in the province," Mr Launa said after his declaration.

He said he wanted to work with everyone, including his election rivals, to develop the province.
"Time for politics is over. We must now put our differences aside and work together to develop Chimbu and PNG," he said.

Mr Launa thanked the people of Chuave for giving him such a huge primary (first preference) vote, which ultimately ensured his victory.

About 80% of his first preference total of 44,828 votes came from the Chuave district, which gave him a lead of over 17,000 votes ahead of Fr Garia when the elimination process began.

Fr Garia gained ground with second and third preference votes from the eliminated candidates, and briefly hit the lead when South Chimbu man Noah Kool was eliminated.

But he took the lead back in the 29th exclusion, when Peter Iggy got eliminated. He amassed 6,829 preference votes from Iggy's primary voters to retake the lead, and held on to win with 72,478 votes (50.16%).

Fr Garia finished 474 votes behind with a final tally of 72,004 votes (49.84%).

The people of Chuave poured into Kundiawa in truckloads, singing and dancing to celebrate the victory. Many shed tears of joy when hugging Mr Launa, knowing deep down the result could have gone the other way in this nail-biting finish to an election run peacefully under the Limited Preferential Voting system.
Kerowagi MP Alphonse Willie must now vacate the chair of governor for Mr Launa to take over. Mr Willie assumed that role immediately after the death of Fr Louis Ambane, to fill the vacuum pending the by-elections.

The writ for the Chimbu Provincial electorate will be returned to the Head of State today, as required by law.

Mr Launa will be sworn in, along with new MPs Peter Wararu (Yangoru/Saussia) and Jamie Maxtone-Graham (Anglimp/South Wahgi) when Parliament meets next week.

His election brings to 10 the number of URP members in Parliament. The majority sit in the Opposition bench with party leader Tim Neville, while two are ministers in government.
Mr Launa is likely to team up with Mr Neville's faction, in accordance with his endorsement.