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Bougainville minister loses seat as court endorses vote recount

Outside national court (Sally Pokiton)
Sam Akoitai (right) outside National Court after winning back his Central Bougainville seat (Sally Pokiton)

NEWSDESK | Pacific Media Centre (Loop PNG)

AUCKLAND - Bougainville Affairs Minister Father Simon Dumarinu has been ousted by Papua New Guinea’s national court as the first casualty since last year’s general election.

The national court sitting in Waigani declared Sam Akoitai, a former mining minister, re-elected for the seat of Central Bougainville after deliberating on an election petition.

Justice Lawrence Kangwia declared Mr Akoitai elected in the recount by just four votes - 7,257 to Fr Dumarinu’s 7,253.

Mr Akoitai was declared the winner after the court refused a motion by Fr Dumarinu for a further recount.

He is regarded as a cheerleader for Bougainville Copper Limited, having worked for the company for eight years. He also fought against the Bougainville Revolutionary Army during the region’s 10-year civil war.

“We’d like to continue to maintain peace in Bougainville and peace must be the winner,” Mr Akoitai said outside court.

“It’s now down to work, both in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.”

Fr Dumarinu is a Marist Catholic priest from Deomori in the Panguna mine area and was elected to Parliament for the Social Democratic Party led by Governor Powes Parkop.


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