PM launches review on electoral laws, systems

Papua New Guinea PM Peter O'Neill. Picture: FT FILE/RNZ

PORT MORESBY, 13 JUNE 2018 (POST COURIER) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill Tuesday launched a first major review of the election laws and systems in the country since Independence.

The Constitutional and Law Reform Commission has being given 18 months to travel around the country for public consultations to review and enquire into and report on the workings of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections.

The launching was witnessed by key stakeholders including chairman of CLRC, Robert Atiyafa, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato, Minister assisting the PM on Constitutional matters William Samb, Registrar of Political Parties and Candidates, Alphonse Gelu and Dr Eric Kwa the Secretary for CLRC.

Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae has signed the Gazettal Notice on March 8 with 12 terms of reference for the review or inquiry into:

*The electoral roll system;

* The polling system, including polling periods and polling places;

* The electoral boundaries;

* Women and special interest representation in parliament;

* The nomination fees;

*The eligibility of nomination;

* The election petitions filing fees and period of filing;

* The voter identification system;

* The local level government elections;

* The electoral offences;

* The powers, functions and composition of electoral commissioners; and

*The decentralisation of election responsibilities.

O’Neill said this was an important exercise for the country that could be able to deliver the elections in a more orderly manner and managed the outcomes so that it represented the wishes of our people.

He said the review was not designed to suit the government of the day or one political party.

O’Neill said elections had been held since 1964 and election reports had been done by the experts especially the Commonwealth Secretariat on many occasions over the years.

“Every report they have put forward to us on their observation is that the challenges that we have in the election process seem to be similar election after election meaning that the problem we have in dealing with a more orderly election is similar in each election, so why are we not talking heed of those advise, and making the changes that is necessary so we improve on the election process in our country,” he said.

“So the review process is just one aspect of it, I know that we are now discussing issues about whether limited preferential voting (LPV) is the right way or first past the post is the right outcome that our country requires.

“LPV has got its advantages as well, it reduces violence and off course allows campaigns to be a bit more peaceful in some parts of our country and generally that has been achieved but the process of counting the results coming out has been another challenge in itself, where after voting process has been conducted the intimidation and the delays that have been happening is unnecessary and causes a lot of stress both for the candidates and the public who are wanting to see the results as quickly as possible so we need to take into account all that has happened.

“When counting is centralised in some areas, those communities surrounding that particular town or provincial centre have control over the counting process so are we achieving the outcome that the voters have chosen.

“These are issues that the review team has to address when they do their consultation process that will see the real changes that we have to make and that is why our government is very determine so that the next election is done in an orderly manner.

“The outcomes are delivered in a timely manner, and the government is formed on schedule so there is no vacuum in the administration of the affairs of our country,” he said.

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