JOHN Momis has been re-elected the president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville after an election process praised by international observers.

Dr Momis, the incumbent, beat eight other candidates for the presidency, well ahead of his nearest rival, Ismael Toroama.

However, he was pushed to an exclusive process, winning only 48,826 in primary counts – below the 51, 302 votes needed for a majority.

That majority was secured in the fourth exclusive process, with Dr Momis needing to only collect 2476 votes in the exclusive process to claim the presidency.

While delivering his speech after signing the writ, Dr Momis commended the Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, Mr George Manu, his officers, external advisors and supporters involved in the successful staging of this election, which for the first time is being conducted by Autonomous Bougainville Government’s electoral commission.

The commendation was echoed by the Joint International Observer Group, invited by both the Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville governments to observe the election.

International observers were present across North, Central and South Bougainville throughout the polling, sorting and counting periods of the election.

The group included representatives from Australia, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

In a statement, the observers said they had witnessed a counting process that was conducted with integrity.

“The presence of candidate scrutineers, domestic and international observers, and the general public strengthened the transparency of the counting process,” the group said.

“Counting teams worked very hard and election officials were diligent in following quality checking processes that minimised errors.”

Dr Momis said that despite the little hiccups encountered during the election period, people still stood firm with their decisions in ensuring that this election was conducted peacefully.

History was also made in Bougainville after voters elected, for the first time, a woman at an open constituency seat, with Josephine Getsi winning the seat of Peit, in Northern Bougainville.

While Bougainvillean women have had three reserved parliamentary seats since the end of the civil war in 1998, this marks the first time a woman has won an election against a male opponent to represent a constituency.

A total of 12 female candidates ran for election in open seats across the region.

The Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF), supported by International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), provided leadership training in the election lead-up to encourage and support women candidates.

Mrs Getsi participated in FLOW-funded workshops including the leadership training for intending candidates, and two mock parliament trainings.

She has now gone from “a nobody to a somebody,” the International Women’s Development Agency quoted her as saying.

Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives took their seats on 15 June.