By MALUM NALU
OPPOSITION Leader Don Polye yesterday called on the Government to allow the Hela by-election to go ahead as required by the Constitution, with the July 24 deadline fast approaching.
Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato and Police Commissioner Gari Baki met last Thursday to discuss the security situation on the ground after which an announcement was to have been made.
However, there has no response from both men until yesterday. Gamato said he was awaiting funds.
Polye, however, said: “I’m urging them to go ahead because I do not want my brothers – Francis Potape, Philip Undialu and James Marape – to fight over this,” Polye said.
“They should just go through a normal, fair election and let a governor be elected.”
Polye accused Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of “using the three leaders of Hela” to ensure the PNG LNG Project landowners did not have a say in money going out of the country.
“What is happening is a carefully thought-out strategy by Peter O’Neill to confuse the house and the robbers can easily steal while the house is in confusion,” he said.
“The people’s monies, revenues that should have been directed to the people and to the Government, are sent off to pay some loan in Singapore.
“That’s exactly what we have seen happen under his regime.
“I’m not surprised that Hela MPs Philip Undialu and Francis Potape are fighting because the prime minister is using a divide-and-rule tactic to make them fight against each other.
“The prime minister should not use the motion of no confidence as an excuse not to conduct the by-election.
“That’s a convenient disguise he’s using not to allow the by-election to go ahead.
“I condemn that kind of behaviour by a leader.”
O’Neill said he had no reason for not allowing the by-election.
He told The National yesterday that the onus was now on the Electoral Commission to decide whether or not to hold it.
Gamato said the commission stood ready to conduct the by-election pending the release of the K9 million required.
He said Baki would do a final check on the security situation this week.
“What is my reason for not allowing the elections?” O’Neill said from Alotau.
“Don (Polye) has nothing sensible and constructive to say, so he dreams up stupid things.
“It is entirely up to the Electoral Commissioner – his independent decision.”
Prominent Hela leader Robert Tia, meanwhile, has called on Gamato not to be “wishy-washy and indecisive” about the by-election.
“The role and responsibility of the Electoral Commissioner is to run elections,” he said.
“He is a constitutional office holder and that is his prime and foremost responsibility.”
By MALUM NALU