EC sets date for Rai Coast by-elections

National, Normal

ELECTORAL Commissioner Andrew Trawen has announced the dates for the by-election of the Rai Coast electorate in Madang.
Mr Trawen said in a media conference yesterday that the issue of writs would be March 18.
He said nominations would close on March 24 and polling commences on April 17 and ends on April 23. Return of writs would be on or before May 14.
Mr Trawen said nomination would be for seven days while campaigning would go on for four weeks.
He said polling would be conducted in seven days and counting would be on for three weeks or 21-days.
Mr Trawen said the Rai-Coast by-election is estimated to cost K1.6 million. (The actual projected cost stands at K1,639,819).
“I have written to the Treasury Department seeking funding for the by-election and to date, I have not received any indication.
“I wish to state here that it is incumbent on the Government through the Treasury Department to release the funds.”
This is the second by-election for Rai Coast following the death of MP Kiap Niuro Sapia who died last Oct 28 after a long illness.
Recently, there were concerns raised in the media that the long delay in conducting the by-election was denying the Rai-Coast people representation in Parliament.
“I wanted the family of the late member and the people of Rai Coast to meet their customary obligations before I announce the dates for the by-election,” Mr Trawen explained.
“I am a Papua New Guinean and it is a sign of disrespect when the period of mourning is not over yet and we start to talk about by-election.
“Now that the period of mourning has lapsed, I am announcing the dates for a by-election.”
The late Mr Sapia won the first by-election in 2008 after the Court of Disputed Returns nullified the election of James Yali as the duly-elected member following his criminal conviction in 2005.
Meanwhile, the electoral roll for Rai Coast Open has already been sent to Madang.