Bringing back that lost pride

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday July 24th, 2012

SIR Michael Somare was returned to office by an overwhelming majority of East Sepik voters who voted more for the insult to their name when their member was unceremoniously dumped from parliament.
He brings back to parliament all the wealth of experience, charisma and leadership which has earned him a number of honorary doctorates, a knighthood from the queen, the local Logohu award’s top prize of grand chief and the ranking as one of the Commonwealth’s longest-serving politicians.
The 2012 election has also brought home, to the delight of many, two women MPs in Delilah Gore and Loujaya Toni, of Sohe and Lae respectively.
Their election alone brings relief to the hearts of many who might have wanted to write the democratic process in PNG off as staged or rigged.
While Gore now holds the historic title of the first female to be declared in the 2012 national election, Toni will go down as the lady who delivered the greatest upset in PNG’s election history with the unseating of four-term veteran parliamentarian and leader of New Generation Party Bart Philemon.
Gore’s win also coincided with colleague MP and party member David Arore’s re-election for neighbouring Ijivitary open which is a timely injection into T.H.E Party’s growing ambition to form the next government.
Party leader Don Polye met the two victors in Port Moresby where they are still believed to be staying in the hope of further consolidating their numbers, including wooing independents and smaller parties before going into camp, some say in West New Britain.
Toni has been bestowed the title of party leader of PNG’s Indigenous Party of John Tekwie and has taken off to the Alotau camp of caretaker Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s PNC party.
Other notable declarations starting late last Friday included the re-election of Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah who has put up his hand to become the next prime minister.
Since the amendment to the Organic Law on Inte­grity of Political Parties and Candidates, no allegiance is respected or held to be true. Already, the numbers crunching has begun with reports that Namah might have plucked out People’s National Congress member-elect for North Bougainville, Louta Atoi, to go into camp with his PNG Party.
Another person who has switched allegiance midway before he is declared is T.H.E Party candidate in West Sepik regional seat, Amkat Mai. We shall be witnessing much more of that before the week is out.
With the 11 declaration over the long weekend, the progressive tally of declared seats throughout the country is now 44 with another 67 seats in the elimination rounds as counting teams race day and night to meet the deadline for the return of writs this Friday.
Meantime, there is also a notable build-up of election-related disputes at the courts, last reported as being more than 30 and rising.
Election disputes must be seen as flaws in the elections roll-out not necessarily as nonsense making by losing candidates or sour grapes.
There are certain matters which are brought before the court of disputed returns, which if the Electoral Commission would take more attention to rather than fighting tooth and nail to discard, would teach it valuable lessons in election running in the country.
There are, for instance matters that can be administratively sorted out which does not require lawyers or judges to pore over.
Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen declared over the weekend that all election disputes are the business of the courts and his office will not entertain any complainant or disputing party. That would appear as if he is delaying the inevitable and allow himself and his offices and that of the judiciary to be inundated with every manner of complaints, many of which can be sorted out immediately. All election-related disputes will be heard as election petitions by the court of disputed returns which will be constituted right after the 2012 national election is concluded.
We are, however, disturbed to learn that there have been threats made against the electoral commissioner, his family and his senior staff.
That is taking matters way too seriously and we take a dim view of that. So should the law. Any person who goes about threatening election officials belongs in jail.
PNG does not need citizens or leaders who will go to that extent to pursue a career – in politics or elsewhere.