By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
THE people of North Bougainville have elected their new national member of parliament. He is Lauta Atoi, a businessman of mixed Mortlock and Tasman parentage, The National reports.
Atoi, with 10,463 votes, won by 5,301 beating only female candidate Rachael Opeti Konaka, who completed the contest on 5,162 votes.
He now occupies the North Bougainville open seat left vacant by former member and Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.
Bougainville Electoral Commissioner and North Bougainville by-election returning officer Reitama Taravaru, in thanking the Papua New Guinea and Bougainville electoral commission officers, police and the candidates and their supporters, said, generally, the election was peaceful and carried out with respect.
“Having being satisfied with the process on our part, that the by-election was fair and transparent, I have taken into account all the votes cast and I declare our new member-elect Lauta Atoi,” Taravaru officially declared in Buka yesterday.
Atoi, in accepting his new role, thanked everyone for their support and acknowledged members of the New Bougainville Party and churches in Buka for their prayers and assistance.
To all his voters and campaign team, he urged they stay focused on their primary reason for contesting the by-election.
“This win is just the beginning of our journey. Let us stay focused on the immediate needs of our people,” he said.
“We need to complete all incomplete projects of our former member like delivery of water tanks and assisting our people in the West Coast atolls.
“Let us concentrate on putting all monies into these immediate projects; 2012 can take care of itself.
“Our medium- and long-term plan is to boost economic growth in our region,” he said.
“There is no time to celebrate, we have six months to take care of our people. I stand with confidence, yes, I can lead, it is time for a change.”
He invited the candidates who lost and their supporters to work closely with him.
“I have seen your platforms during the campaign period.
“You have very good ideas which we can together work on and move Bougainville forward,” Atoi said.