Despite the wet weather, Bougainvilleans in Morobe turned up to have a say on the region’s leadership.
This year’s general elections for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is quite significant as it is the first election after the referendum in November 2019.
The leaders voted in will continue negotiations with the National Government to determine AROB’s political future.
The event started off with the Presiding Officer, Joel Noga, explaining the process as well as the system of voting, which is the limited preferential voting (LPV) system.
Noga said polling starts on Wednesday, August 12th, and will continue to Friday, August 14th. There will not be any polling on the weekend until Monday, August 17th. Voting ends around 6pm on Tuesday, August 18.
After his announcement, electoral officials then proceeded to seal the ballot boxes of ‘South’, ‘Central’, ‘North’ and ‘President’ after lifting them up and showing the public that they were empty.
The Assistant Returning Officer for Morobe, Bartholomew Naiab, then officially opened the Morobe Province polling.
The Lae district authority chief executive officer, Robin Calistus, and Morobe Province Election Manager, Simon Soheke, were the first two Bougainvilleans in Lae to cast their votes.
Soheke was emotional afterwards, saying it was a great feeling despite being far from home.
“We are very fortunate to be part of Bougainville and we have been very fortunate to have been part of the process as a whole; starting from the peace agreement and up towards now, what we’re doing today.”
Meantime, the seats contested include the president, constituency members, which is similar to LLG members, regional ex-combatants and regional women’s.
Morobe has over 2,000 registered voters, as per the referendum roll.