DEPUTY Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi has ordered that there must be assurance of integrity in the election process and decisions by the Electoral Commission regarding the general election.
Presiding at the National Court in Waigani on Wednesday, he urged the Electoral Commission to appoint people who have not been questioned on their impartiality and integrity to take part in the election.
“People whose characters were questioned as election managers and returning officers are not to be included at all if we are to deliver safe, fair and quality election to the people who exercise their rights once every five years to choose freely, safely, protected and speak openly,” he said.
“The Electoral Commission seems not to pay any attention.
“The integrity of the election is guaranteed when we have people without questions on their integrity of standing appointed to this most critical and important commission,” he said.
Justice Kandakasi said this was to reduce the number of election petitions coming to court after elections.
“Electoral Commission must go to the election petition database and see which of election managers, returning officers and presiding officers have question marks on their names in the petitions.
“What good does the electoral commission serve if it keeps on ignoring such situation?”
These remarks were made during a proceeding by former Hela governor Francis Potape, an intending candidate for Komo-Margarima Tuguyawini Peter Philip, an intending candidate for Tari-Pori open Justin Haiara and Ramond Kuai against Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai for appointing John Tipa as the Hela election manager.
Potape, Philip, Haiara and Kuai, through their lawyer Paul Henry, sought court’s order to have Sinai reappoint a new Hela election manager and not Tipa. They said that Tipa’s actions as the Hela election manager in the previous general election had resulted in an election petition against Hela Governor Philip Undialu in the National Court referencing EP NO.3 of 2017.
In the election petition proceeding, Tipa as the Hela election manager in 2017 general election, conducted an illegal recount after the official counting was closed and failed to declare the winner of the Hela regional seat on July 23, 2017 after counting was completed.
Henry said Tipa also had similar issues with the election of the Hela local level government in 2019 and his reappointment in this coming general election did not guarantee the integrity of the Electoral Commission. He said having Tipa as the Hela election manager would interfere with the rights to free and fair election.
Justice Kandaksi had further ordered Sinai’s lawyer to file and serve an affidavit addressing the issue of decision made on the Hela provincial election manager, returning officers and polling officers to Henry as of yesterday. The matter returns today for hearing of arguments.
PNG Country Party names 40 candidates to contest elections
PAPUA New Guinea Country Party parliamentary leader Wera Mori recently announced 40 candidates to contest this year’s general election under the party banner.
Mori made the announcement at a party gathering in Goroka on Wednesday.
He said one of the two candidates endorsed from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) was a woman.
Mori told a large gathering at the National Park in Goroka that his party was aiming to restore dignity and integrity to parliament.
“Every individual’s dignity and integrity must be protected and should not be manipulated and deprived.
“Likewise the Country Party’s integrity and dignity must also be upheld,” he said.
Mori said candidates endorsed under the Country Party were prepared to join hands to take the challenge to contest, win seats and be in the Government to see party policies implemented for the betterment of the people and the country.
He said the party’s foremost policy was to achieve economic independence for ordinary citizens by bringing back the country’s money from extractive industries parked in off-shore accounts and developing agriculture.
Meanwhile, Mori clarified that the Eastern bloc political movement comprising Western Highlands, Chimbu, Jiwaka, Madang and Morobe was not promoting regionalism but to be a force in Parliament to form government and bargain for more recognition and to vie for major portfolios.
“The rejuvenation of PNG Country Party is bringing the spotlight on the capabilities of eastern politicians that seemed to have gone off the stage over a past two decades,” he said.
20-member police team to watch Kerema
A 20-MEMBER team is expected to be stationed in Kerema during the election period, Gulf provincial police commander Chief Inspector Jeffery Lemb says.
“All nominations will take place at the Kerema rugby league oval, where there won’t be major security issues during that time and we will conduct election awareness,” he said.
He said the awareness campaign would cover the seven days of the nominations and end before polling began.
“We will keep watch, secure the town area. We are not expecting a lot to happen during this period especially during the nomination and campaigning period.
“After nomination and polling period, all the counting will take place in the same area for the three seats of the province,” Lemb said.
Lemb added that Police Minister William Onglo was considering an alcohol ban for the election period and they would follow directives from the Police Headquarters or the Minister.
“If there is a need, we can call for an alcohol ban at the provincial level until any specific instruction comes from the Police HQ or the Minister,” he said.
Sinai explains role of returning officers in polls
ELECTORAL Commissioner Simon Sinai has appealed to the public not to cause trouble in the provinces over the appointment of returning officers (ROs), saying they were only observers.
“The returning officer is merely, in this context, an observer, the assistant returning officers are given prominence and they will come into run the elections, so don’t think that an RO will position someone to win. They only supervise and facilitate the process,” he said.
“So when we go into the elections, we’re going to talk more about it more but for now, as we are seeing, people are complaining and causing violence; let us not do that.”
Sinai urged the public to work together and see what the Electoral Commission (EC) would be doing during the polling and counting period.
He pointed out that the ROs had strict protocols there to manage them and did not not understand why there were issues over the appointment of ROs.
“If you have a problem with them relating to a personal matter, then make your complaints heard with the EC about how critical it is, but you also need to consider the work that goes into selecting the ROs,” he said.
He said the public needed to learn to accept the work of the EC through their appointments and work with them.
“Do not cause trouble because RO selection have already been appointed and gazetted, decided by the EC in talks with stakeholders.”