By Fabian Hakalits – EM TV, Buka
Polling that will determine Bougainville’s political future status has begun.
As Bougainville enters into its two-week polling schedule today, the onus is on voters to elect leaders that will speak on the referendum.
The first day of polling was witnessed by Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen.
This election is important in electing a government that will lead the autonomous region on the path towards a referendum.
Over 173,000 eligible voters are set to cast their votes to elect the president, as well as 39 constituency members, including six others from the reserved seats for women and ex-combatants.
Incumbent Presidential Candidate Chief Dr John Lawrence Momis is challenged by eight others, including former national parliamentarian Sam Akoitai, former ABG Speaker Nick Peniai and two BRA strongholds Ismael Toroama and Sam Kauona.
According to Bougainville Acting Electoral Commissioner George Manu, the polling began today and will end on May 25.
He said voters in other parts of the country also have chances to vote; Goroka, Lae, Madang, Port Moresby and Rabaul.