Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Papua New Guinea prime minister wins seat for fourth time

Reuters, SYDNEY

Papua New Guinean (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has won a fourth term in the legislature, but the South Pacific nation is still no clearer on who is to lead it through a period of economic uncertainty.

Opposition politicians have harshly criticized O’Neill’s economic management, including his handling of a budget deficit that has ballooned as oil and gas prices slumped.

However, O’Neill weathered the criticism to win 48,714 votes, or 78 percent of all ballots cast in his Ialibu-Pangia District, his office said in a statement yesterday.

“Our promises to the people are clear and can be delivered, and we have a proven track record to deliver on our promises,” O’Neill told supporters in Southern Highlands Province.

His People’s National Congress party was in line to form the next government, he added.

However, the resource-rich nation is still tallying votes, with final results not expected until the end of the month.

Analysts expect a tight race between O’Neil’s party and that of his main rival, former PNG minister of the treasury Patrick Pruaitch, who has formed a coalition with several opposition party leaders, promising to boost growth and stabilize the economy.

Junior opposition Pangu Party leader Sam Basil has vowed to put an end to the exports of raw resources and create jobs.

Polling in PNG has been marred by reports of disruptions and voters being left off electoral rolls, souring the mood in a nation with a history of electoral violence and corruption.

Despite its mineral wealth, which includes Exxon Mobil’s US$20 billion liquified natural gas plant, most of the nation’s nearly 8 million people live at subsistence level.

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