Minister for Inter-Government Relations and Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Leo Dion, today announced Philip Undialu as the new Hela Governor.
The appointment comes after the death of Hela’s former Governor, Late Anderson Agiru.
The announcement puts an end to a two month long controversy between Francis Potape and Philip Undialu over who the legitimate governor is.
Sir Leo Dion, today officially announced that Koroba Lake-Kopiago MP, Philip Undialu, is the legitimate Governor for Hela Province following legal proceedings.
“My Ministry and the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs now recognise honourable Philip Undialu as the duly appointed Governor of Hela Province, and will continue to work with the Hela Provincial Government, under his governance.”
Under the organic law on Provincial and Local Level Government, a provincial assembly has the mandate to elect a new governor after the seat is left vacant, which can be contested by members of parliament.
The Hela Provincial House of Assembly voted Undialu, seven to nil against his rival, Potape.
But over the last three months, the appointment of the new governor has taken various twists and turns following the death of late Anderson Agiru. And it took almost three months for the government to reach a decision.
“On behalf of the O’Neill-Dion government, I encourage the other national parliament members from Hela to work together with other leaders from the province and the Provincial Administration to ensure that the province implements its priorities in accordance with the rule of law,” Sir Dion said.
Hela remains a significant province in the country. It is the home of the PNG LNG project. But the appointment of who will be the governor has divided the Hela people.
However, today Sir Leo Dion made a special plea to the Hela people to work together with Undialu as their new governor.
Any disagreements between the people may have an implication on the royalty payouts to the LNG landowners, and may also affect the revenue generated to the government’s coffers through the LNG project.