Gamato denies commission influenced by politicians


ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato says his office has not been influenced by MPs and ministers when appointing returning officers and assistant-returning officers for the 2017 general election.
He said yesterday that he had approved and released instruments of returning officers and assistant returning officers on Sept 12.
“These instruments will become effective when gazetted in the National Gazette,” Gamato said.
“There have been claims that PNGEC has been influenced by members of parliament and ministers in Government. I categorically deny the claims.
“Many stakeholders have come to see me and among other things, they raised their choice for returning officers and assistant returning officers – members of parliament, governors, provincial administrators and election managers.
“Their choices are not conclusive because I have to assess and make my own decision.
“The final decision lies with the electoral commissioner and no-one else. Gamato said Electoral Commission staff worked in “an extreme political environment and we are open to public criticisms”.
“However, I want to state here that if there are situations of conflicts of interest and wrong doings, I can always revoke the appointments.”
Gamato said he had already warned election managers and returning officers “to be free, fair and independent”.
“I have already referred some electoral officials to police for criminal investigations because of their inappropriate actions that warranted investigation for election fraud and official corruption,” he said.
“I will not hesitate to do the same.”

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