By ZACHERY PER
PEOPLE's National Congress party candidate and former Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Peter Waieng was still ahead midway through the by-election elimination process when counting was suspended last night after the 22nd elimination, The National reports.
Waieng maintained a comfortable lead with 7,328 votes, a difference of 1,988 votes over his nearest rival and former agriculture minister Mathew Siune (5,240).
The six candidates who were eliminated yesterday included Francis Iwainde, John Siune Kela, Francis Otto Gugl, Kiak Bagle, Siune Kua and John Sie Wigle.
After the distribution of their preference votes among the remaining 21 candidates, PNC's Peter Waieng led with 7,328 votes, Siune was second on 5,240, PNG Constitutional Democratic Party candidate Tobias Kulang was third with 4,917 votes, People's Party man Paul Gende fourth on 4,180 and former Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Wagi Merimba was running fifth on 4,047 votes.
A total of 381 ballots had been exhausted after last night's elimination leaving the 21 surviving candidates sharing a total of 51,643 votes.
Chimbu provincial election manager Steven Gore Kaupa said at the Kundiawa Lutheran Day High School the elimination would slow down when the elimination reached the 900 and more than 1,000-vote mark.
Kaupa said they were on track to complete the counting before Aug 26.