BULOLO (CU)_Five million voters from across Papua New Guinea will go to polls in June to cast their ballot in the general elections. Prime Minister James Marape’s Pangu Party had already begun to shore up its popularity ahead of the elections, when its party leader died on the eve of the election nominations.
Sam Basil, who was serving as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister was taken to hospital, along with three other injured people, following an accident on the road between the cities of Bulolo and Lae, on the northern coast of the country. The incident took place on Wednesday evening, and hospital workers tried to revive the deputy PM but their efforts were proven to be futile. “It is with great sadness that I wish to, regrettably, inform the Prime Minister, and the country, of the death of our Deputy Prime Minister Honourable Sam Basil following severe injuries he sustained in a vehicle accident,” police commissioner David Manning said in a statement. “I wish to also express my condolences to the family of the late Mr Basil and [to] the people of Bulolo.”
The accident is currently being investigated by the police. It is reported that a second vehicle was involved in the incident although the vehicle’s driver remains unknown. “I appeal to any eye-witnesses to the incident to come forward to assist investigators in their investigations,” police commissioner Manning said. “The investigation will tell us what happened, so I am appealing for calm during this time, to allow the course of the investigation to be completed in a timely manner.”
PM Marape described his deputy’s death as a “big loss” for the United Labour Party as well as the country. “He was a strong member of our present generation of leaders in Government,” he said in a statement. “What makes his untimely passing even sadder is the fact that it happened only hours before nominations open for the 2022 general election. This young and vibrant leader had been preparing his United Labour Party well for the elections only to have this tragic accident happen on the eve of nominations.”