Group ready for polls

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COMMONWEALTH Observer Group (COG) chairman Baron Divavesi Waqa says the COG is here to help ensure a credible, transparent and inclusive General Election 2022 (GE22).
Waqa said the space for women was getting better, and that “it is all about inclusion and good participation”.
Observer groups have been to PNG a number of times, the first time in 1997 and the most recent the GE2017.
“So we are continuing with this assessment based on the 2017 report, looking also at the cultural expectations and mind set. I think PNG is taking steps forward,” he said.
The GE2017 report recommended the creation of new electorates and women participation.
A first for Waqa, chairing the COG in PNG, he noted that gender inclusion had always been one of the biggest challenges.
“We are interested to observe the strides PNG has made given the recent Government legislations passed,” he said.
The nine observers from Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Seychelles, will be deployed throughout PNG, with Southern to have three.
“They will be sent out in pairs and will be supported by our own Commonwealth staff from Port Moresby and working with other international and domestic observers,” Waqa said.
COG members Wilson Toa, the country manager for Vanuatu’s balance of power, had previously observed PNG’s GE2017, the only one to have been to observe an election in PNG.
“Although most of the observers are new, they have vast experience in this sort of work,” Waqa said.
The COG has been observing electoral processes throughout the Commonwealth as part of the support to Commonwealth countries.
“As observers, we come in with an open mind, assessing a fair election that will reflect the will of the people and make recommendations for PNG to consider,” he said.
“We will spend the entire month, prior to polling, preparing as we are here now, going through polling, the counting and the results. By July 24, there should be a statement of the results and recommendations.”
All reports from observers will be collated into the final draft of the report with observations and recommendations of how to do better in the next general elections.
Waqa observed that the EC had a huge task to do as PNG was not a small place and that it was doing its best.

Observers in PNG

THE Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) has arrived in Papua New Guinea and begun its assessment of the electoral process in the run-up to General Election 2022 (GE22) polling beginning today.
The group of nine people from across the Commonwealth is chaired by ex-Nauru president Baron Waqa. Waqa said: “We recognise the significance of general elections to the people of PNG, the region and the global community and appreciate the challenges they present.
“As part of our work to support GE22, we will now meet various stakeholders, including political parties, the police, civil society groups, citizen observer and monitor groups and the media.
“COG will deploy observers to selected provinces to observe electoral preparations and meet with stakeholders in their respective areas when polling commences.
“During the 21 days of polling, COG will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and results management processes. The interim statement of its preliminary findings will then be issued on July 24 (two days after polling ends on July 22).”
Waqa said COG would submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will, in turn, share it with the PNG Government and other stakeholders before their departure on July 31.

Preparations … New Ireland electoral officers recording information of the ballot boxes and papers before distribution. Election manager and provincial returning officer Benjamin Kliawi said last week that, 31 boxes containing a total of 55,750 ballot papers had been distributed to the Namatanai electorate while 21 boxes containing a total of 42,950 ballot papers for the Kavieng electorate remains at the Kavieng police station. Kliawi said a total of 82 ballot boxes were also distributed for the polling period, 41 for the Namatanai open and 41 for the provincial seat while extending his appreciation to the security personnel in the province for their support. Provincial police commander Chief Inspector Felix Nebanat said his officers had been guarding election materials since their delivery to the province. – Picture supplied