EC should have sought foreign support earlier

Letters, Normal

The National, Monday 16th July, 2012

THE general election in PNG has, once again, been marred by violence.
The increased financial bounty at stake, enhanced value of political office, proliferation of weapons and pressures on the Electoral Commission (EC), defence force and police combined to highlight security concerns, particularly in the highlands provinces.
Soon after the constitutional crisis in December last year, flawed elections will further dent public confidence in the government’s ability to uphold Westminster democratic principles.
They may also serve to erode international confidence in the quality of PNG’s democratic pro­cesses, which has already been affected by previous pro­blems with elections in PNG.
The government should have sought foreign support in the areas of administration, security and logistics.
Critical types of immediate support that should be offered as part of a wider package of assistance include :
l    Provision of sufficient helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft with crew to support timely delivery, collection and security of ballot boxes;
l    Support for independently-run pre-election weapons amnesty and buy-back;
l    Financial and training support for a domestic electoral observer group supported by a team of international observers; and
l    Long-term on-going support negotiated between the PNG government and the international community to avoid a perennial cycle of crisis ma­nagement of PNG elections.
The blame should be placed on the government and the EC.

Port Moresby