Allow by-election to proceed: EC

The National, Friday July 8th, 2016

 Reports by MALUM NALU
ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato has urged the MPs and leaders in Hela to put aside their differences and allow the by-election for a governor to proceed peacefully.
He said this amid the confusion among some people in the province over who is to act in the position until the by-election. The position has been vacant since the death of the late Governor Anderson Agiru last April.
In addition, some people prefer not to have the by-election because the the 2017 general election in only nine months away.
But Gamato said the law required that one should be held.
“It’s now up to the Hela leaders, especially the ministers in Government and the MPs, to organise themselves,” Gamato told The National.
“I’m appealing for cooperation between the leaders to fill the vacancy. It’s only through the election process that we will establish the position of the governor. It cannot be done otherwise.
“Even the provincial assembly does not have the power to elect the governor for Hela. It can only appoint the acting governor.”
One faction of the assembly this week elected Philip Undialu while another elected Francis Potape.
“The people of Hela will have to elect a governor through the by-election.”
Gamato said the Electoral Commission would need K9 million to conduct the Hela by-election.
“If the funding is provided, I would like to conduct the supplementary elections that were failed by the former commissioner (Andrew Trawen) in Hela,” he said.
“We did that during the Samarai-Murua by-election when we conducted elections for the council president in Murua, and three ward council positions.”