PEOPLE’S Democratic Movement Party leader Paias Wingti last night succumbed to his second loss as regional member of Western Highlands, this time at the hands of former student activist Tom Olga.
Mr Wingti lost the same seat to then Catholic priest, the late Fr Robert Lak in the 1997 general elections but made a successful comeback in 2002.
Governor Wingti ran neck and neck with the 32-year-old and was struggling all through until the 25th exclusion.
In that exclusion, Deputy Governor Wai Rapa was eliminated and Mr Olga picked up 23,876 votes to raise his progressive total to 141,286 to defeat Mr Wingti, who only managed to score 10,202 for a total of 127,636 votes.
Election manager Kala Rawali officially declared Mr Olga as the new member-elect at 7.45pm after passing the majority needed at 50.59 per cent to Mr Wingti’s 49.41 per cent.
After he was proclaimed, Mr Olga paid tribute to his predecessor and described the former prime minister as one of the best leaders of this country.
“He was a great leader of his era but unfortunately time is changing and the leadership also has to change and that is exactly what had happened,” the elated MP-elect said.
Mr Olga said it was a great challenge and the responsibilities were touch for such a leader of his age but added he would do his best to serve the wish and aspirations of the people.
Wingti clansman Richard Wally last night appealed to people to accept Mr Wingti’s defeat and to refrain from venting their anger on property and people.
He said supporters of the defeated governor “humbly accept’’ the result and said violent post-result actions would be against what Mr Wingti stood for.
Mr Wingti is regarded as the architect of some of the major decisions like the Free Education policy, the Organic Law on Provincial and LLG, the Integrity Law on Political Parties and Candidates and Privatisation.
He was prime minister for three times between 1985–1987, 1987–1988 and 1992 to 1994.
His loss brings the number of former prime ministers losing in this election to two, the first being Kokopo MP and Treasurer, Sir Rabbie Namaliu.
Western Highlands is the last electorate to be declared in Papua New Guinea after the return of writs yesterday.