Researcher claims WHP election hijacked

National

This year’s general election in Western Highlands was hijacked by candidates and their supporters, denying voters freedom of choice, according to researcher and political scientist Dr Joseph Ketan.
Ketan said key features of the elections in electorates in WHP were campaign houses involving housing, feeding guests, giving them bus fares, raising resources from within local groups like presenting pigs or money to support their candidate, campaign expenditure – giving cash and pigs to rival candidates in attempts to split votes and securing votes.
“Strategies involved in securing votes ranged from gifting to intimidation and threats of violence,” Ketan said.
Ketan’s recent study titled “An Assessment of the 2017 Elections in Western Highlands Province”  was done as part of an Australian National University – State, Society and Governance –  Melanesian programme from May to August.
It highlighted administrative problems created opportunities for electoral irregularities, while in others the will to cheat the system and the desire to win at all cost resulted in the disqualification of thousands of voters.
These administrative problems are voter enrolment and electoral roll where the Electoral Commission continued to work with an ineffective data, voter enrolment hijack by candidates, inaccurate electoral roll or common roll and one-day poll which caused delay in polling and counting.

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