Posted By Staff Reporter
By Hon Bryan Kramer
This is Part 2 of a two part series of articles providing an insight into the up coming by-election for Goroka Open Seat.
In Part 1, I provided an insight into the results of past elections as well as who I thought were the main contenders.
To read Part 1 click on the link below:
In Part 2, I will provide an indepth insight to each of the contenders chances of winning the by-election.
With State of Emergency ending on Tuesday, the Electoral Commission is expected to announce the date of By-election next week.
Of the 30 candidates that contested the last election its expected upto 10 may re-contest the by-election with a handful of new candidates nominating to contest for the first time.
So we may see up to 15 candidates nominate before the close of writs.
This is a significant change from 2012 where over 51 candidates contested the Goroka Seat and 30 candidates in 2017.
A decrease in candidates usually favors the front runners who will typically increase their primary votes that would normally be divided with more candidates in the field. Less candidates may also mean less voter turn-out.
Who is confirmed to contest?
I'm informed the following candidates have made their intentions known to contest the by-election.
Candidates from 2017 General Election re-contesting may include:
1's votes Total Votes
1) Henry Ame (PNC) 1st 10,585 24,191
2) Bire Kimisopa (NGP) 2nd 11,627 22,232
3) Aiye Tambua (PANGU) 4th 6,556 14,000
4) Elijah Gomae (URP) 5th 8,596 12,000
5) Jeffrey Sauwo (?) 6th 6,984 6,984
6) Domic G. Sintex (ULP) 9th 2,728 3,102
7) T. Harokaquveh (PPP) 12th 1,349 1,349
8) Mary Pati 13th 1,226 1,157
9) Kupa Janis (Ind) 14th 1,062 1,064
New candidates include:
10) Manu Ijape (Country Party)
11) Serina Kengemar (Ind)
12) Karyn Hargreaves
13) Ark Ketauwo
Who will likely win?
Let's consider the strength and weakness of each of the main contenders.
1) Hentry Ame:
Ame who won the 2017 election polling a record 22,100+ votes, 10,500+ primary votes and 13,600+ preference votes. 7,300+ or 70% of his 10,500+ primary votes came from Gahuku LLG. His base area in Gahuku is Ward 8 where he polled 4,900+ votes.
Ame also polled 1,700+ from Mimanalo LLG and 1,400+ from Goroka Urban indicating he has support across all three LLG's
His strength will be the fact he will be contesting the by-election as the former Member of Goroka. Although his election was voided by the Courts I believe in most of the minds of the constitutes (people of Goroka) he is still the Member. Unlike the last election where he contested for the first time as an Independent and underdog against the former Member Bire Kimisopa.
A further strength for Ame is that he is widely known as a major coffee buyer in EHP which explains his strong primary and preference vote in the last election.
Ame's weakness will be that he was removed from office mid-term after only serving 2.5 years. It is the worst period to be removed from office especially if you are a first time Member and yet roll out major development programs.
2) Bire Kimisopa.
Kimisopa finished a close second in the last election a margin of just 1,940 votes, In contrast to Ame, Kimisopa polled a total of 22,200+ votes, 11,600+ primary votes and 10,600+ preference votes.
6,600+ or 67% of 11,600 primary votes came from Mimanalo LLG. 3,200+ of 6,600+ came from his base in Ward 4. He also polled 2,900+ from Gahuku LLG and 2,000+ from Goroka Urban LLG,demonstrating he also has support across the electorate.
Kimisopa's strengths include;
a) he is a household name in politics,
b) former Minister for State (2002-2007)
b) winning the case forcing the by-election where he can claim he ought to have won in the first instance.
c) having lost the election he would have learnt from his mistakes in the last election.
Kimisopa's weakness include;
a) following the election loss in 2017 election he will be contesting the by-election as a contender (challenger) and not the sitting Member for Goroka defending his seat.
b) that the electorate may have become weary of his leadership which indicates why he lost the last election. While he may argue the loss was due to errors and omissions in the counting. Many other notable sitting Members were returned with strong polling results. So one would have expected Kimisopa with a national profile, political wit and clout to have won back the seat with overwhelming margin.
c) limited financial backing - Kimisopa's main opponents will be running under major parties that will provide major financial backing.
d) the on-going feud between Ame and Kimisopa may turn voters to other other candidates.
3) Aiya Tambua
Tambua contested the last election under PNG 1st Party, finishing 4th polling a total of 14,000 votes, 6,600+ primary votes (1's) and 7,400+ preference votes (2's & 3's).
Tambua like Ame comes from Gahuku LLG where he polled 3,300+ of 6,600+ primary votes. His base vote area are wards 6 and 8. In ward 6 he polled 1,700+ votes and 900+ in ward 8. He also polled 2,200+ in Goroka Urban and 900+ in Mimanalo LLG.
While he contested last election under the PNG First Party with little, if any financial support this time Tambua will have the full backing of the Prime Minister James Marape's Pangu party. Prime Minister may also spend sometime on the ground in Goroka campaigning for him.
To have any chance of winning he must finish ahead of Ame in the primary count or finish close to Ame as they eliminate down to the top 5 candidates. In the last election Ame had 4000+ lead in the primary count and 800+ in preference votes before Tambua was eliminated.
4) Elijah Gomae
Gomae finished 5th in the last election polling a total 12,000 votes, 8,500+ primary and 3,500+ preference (2's & 3's). While he finished 5th after preferences he finished 3rd based on primary (1's) behind 2nd place Ame on 10,500+ and Kimisopa on 11,600+.
Gomae also comes from Gahuku LLG where he polled 5,700+ votes. His base area is Ward 4 where he polled 5,000+ of 5700+ votes. He polled 2,500+ in Goroka Urban and only 270+ in Mimanalo LLG.
This will be Gomae's 4th election, (2007, 2012, 2017). In 2012, he contested under Pangu finishing 9th. In 2017 he ran under National Alliance finishing 5th and will now contest the by-election under William Dumá's United Resource (URP) Party.
While Gomae has a strong base vote in Gahuku and Goroka Urban to have any chance of winning he needs to increase his primary vote in Mimanalo LLG as well as his preference votes.
The financial backing provided by URP may boost his votes in the by-election however he doesn't have an easy run placed behind Ame (PNC) and Tambua (PANGU)
5) Dominic Gahane-Sintex
Contesting as an independent candidate in the last election he finished a distant 9th, polling just 3,100+ votes, 2,700+ primary votes and 374 preference (2's & 3's) votes.
Sintex comes from Mimanalo LLG the same LLG Kimisopa comes from. His base vote area is Ward 3 where he polled 1,500+ votes.
Word on the ground is that 7th placed candidate George Mosinkave split his vote. Mosinkave won't be contesting the by-election so this is expected to improve Sintex polling results.
While Gahane-Sintex isn't expected to win, it will be the support of Basil's ULP Party to boost his chances.
Based on historical data I would predict the by-election to be between Ame and Tambua. Unlike 2017 Election Kimisopa won't be contesting as the sitting member and the last results indicate declining trend in preference votes.
The more pertinent issue is that of 76,200+ allowable votes cast in the last election 52% (39,800+) were from Gahuku LLG, only 28% (21,700+) Mimanalo LLG and just 18.8% (14,300+) from Goroka Urban LLG.
Therefore if Kimisopa has any chance of winning he would need candidates from Gahuku LLG to fight each other and exhaust their preference votes. He would also need to consolidate the majority of votes in Mimanalo LLG.
Ame contesting under PNC may impact his preference votes as I expect the Government's coalition Party members to aggressively campaign against PNC who now in opposition. I was informed last year the PNC Party leader, Peter O'Neil was shouted down and had sugarcane hurled (thrown) at him while officiating the opening of a new urban sealed road.
Ame, Tambuna and Gomae all come from Gahuku LLG, which has the largest voting population 51% of the total votes, for Tambuna to have any chance of winning the by-election he needs to dominate in Gahuku LLG polling equal or greater primary votes than Ame.
An important fact is that this by-election will not be like previously elections, party politics will play a part in influencing the outcome.
Another intervention is that as Minister for Police and following discussion with Prime Minister and Commissioner for Police, the Marape-Steven Government intend to ensure Goroka by-election is free and fair.
A number of interventions will be made to prevent election rigging, double voting and individuals attempting to control polling booths and filling out bulk ballot papers.
Further, the people of Goroka can expect the deployment of a large security force on the ground to ensure a peaceful election.
Any candidate or candidate's supporters attempting to bribe, threaten or intimidate any person exercising their constitutional right to participate or vote in the by-election can expect to be charged and thrown in jail.
Of course these interventions will open up the field for any candidate to win.
Picture outside Goroka Airport Terminal on my recent visit to Goroka to interview a number of candidates to contest under Allegiance Party - a formal announcement will be made by me next week.