By MALUM NALU
ELECTORAL Commissioner Patilias Gamato says the Hela by-election must go ahead because it is a requirement under the Constitution and the Organic Law on elections.
He said this on Saturday as the Hela provincial assembly prepares to meet this week to elect an acting governor following the death of Anderson Agiru.
“Because it is a requirement under the Constitution and the Organic Law on national elections, we will still hold the by-election,” Gamato told The National.
“I’m consulting with some leaders, especially the leaders from Hela province.
“What they basically want is to meet at the Hela provincial assembly to discuss that matter.
“I said okay, you can discuss the matter first, but that will not stop us from conducting the election.
“As far as I’m concerned, there is a vacancy in Hela governor’s seat, because of the death of Anderson Agiru.
“So, even if they appoint an acting governor, that does not qualify to fill the vacancy.
“Because the vacancy is created when there is a death, it must be filled by way of a by-election.
“It is a constitutional requirement that the people vote the governor into office.
“So what I’m saying is that we will still conduct the by-election.
“The vote in an acting-governor in the assembly only exists until the by-election is conducted and the governor is voted by the people of Hela.
“I will recommend the dates, hopefully next (this) week..
“I want to recommend the dates to the governor-general.
“The Hela provincial assembly is contemplating to vote the acting-governor. That’s okay, but it’s temporary to occupy the vacancy.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a vacant seat which occurred before July 24, 2016, so we can still conduct the by-election.
“I have already written to the prime minister seeking funding to conduct the by-election.”
Meanwhile, Gamato will be travelling to Fiji this week to attend a workshop on parliament and political stability, and on to Canberra to observe the Australian federal election.
“I return on July 4,” he said.
By MALUM NALU