Irregularities identified

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THE influence of money, social events and communal or block voting are some of the irregularities noted during the General Election in 2017, according to a report.
The report released by the National Research Institute (NRI) said the irregularities had become a common practice during general elections.
“Free, fair and safe elections are key components of the principles of a democratic system,” it observed.
The report focused on initiatives for addressing irregularities in PNG’s national elections.
It was prepared by NRI officer William Kipongi who highlighted some factors which contributed to the irregularities, and how they could be addressed.
They include the:

  • INFLUENCE of money – such as paying people to vote for a particular candidate;
  • INFLUENCE of social events – such as supporting people to pay compensation, bride price and funeral feasts so that they can vote for a candidate;
  • PRACTICE of communal/block voting – involving selected number of people from a community to vote for a particular candidate on behalf of the others;
  • CULTURAL norms – where leadership is earned through kinship, clan and tribal groups. People are not allowed to vote or discuss who may be the next leader because of intimidation; and,
  • USE of violence to compel people to vote for a particular candidate, with some supporters of a candidate using guns to threaten supporters of rival candidates.

He suggested that the irregularities could be addressed by:

  • IMPOSING tougher penalties on voters and candidates involved in vote-buying;
  • CREATING more awareness on the importance of the general elections, voting and the impact of vote-buying on service delivery;
  • NULLIFYING votes cast through communal/block voting which is against the principle of democracy; and,
  • IMPOSING tougher penalties on candidates and their supporters who use violence and force to intimidate voters.

Vanuatu’s ex-president to lead observers

THE Vanuatu government has nominated its former President Kalkot Mataskelekele to lead the Melanesian Spearhead Group Observer Group (MSGOG) for the General Election 2022 (GE22).
This was confirmed by MSG Secretariat programme manager for political and security affairs, Ilan Kiloe.
“Election observation is an activity of the political affairs programme,” he said.
Members of the group are from Fiji, the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Kiloe said Mataskelekele was a lawyer by profession.
“The MSGOG will be focused on women candidates, consistent with the desire of MSG leaders to improve women representation in our national parliaments,” he said.
“This will also enable the MSGOG to make recommendations on what can be done to facilitate women’s aspirations to accede to representative office in the legislature.”
The MSGOG will be working with the Electoral Commission to establish the necessary logistical arrangements in Port Moresby before sending teams to the provinces.

Former MP vows to implement PMIZ project

People listening to Madang Open candidate Nixon Philip Duban at Kanamam village in Ambenob local level government, Madang, last Friday.

FORMER Madang MP Nixon Duban, contesting the seat under the banner of the People’s National Congress party, promises to get multi-billion-kina Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project off the ground quickly.
Duban was a member of the Peter O’Neill-led Government in November 2015 when the project was launched at Vidar, on the north coast of Madang.
Work on the project has been delayed. Duban was ousted by Allegiance Party leader Bryan Kramer in the 2017 General Election.
O’Neill, the PNC leader, was in the province on Friday to rally support for his party’s candidates.
Duban told The National of his plans, if given another chance to enter Parliament.
“The PMIZ is to be the main priority and the Integrated Land Group (ILG) as the main driver of economic development,” he said.
“I invested K1 million with the National Development Bank when I was MP, and will continue to invest with improved terms.
“I also invested K1 million for 500,000 cocoa seedlings which will be channelled through the ILGs.”
He also said that Madang needed four-lane roads.
He also plans a district hospital and two new high schools at Transgogol and Ambenob.

Commonwealth election observers arriving

THE Commonwealth secretariat has deployed nine observers for Papua New Guinea General Election 2022 (GE22).
“A few of them arrived yesterday, at the invitation of the Electoral Commission (EC), ahead of polling from Monday,” a commission official said.
The official said some 150 international election observers had been arriving in PNG since last month.
The observers are from the Australian National University, the Commonwealth secretariat and the European Union, to name a few.
Along with their domestic counterparts, they will be briefed in Port Moresby before they are respectively deployed into provincial teams.
The Commonwealth observer group will observe and consider all aspects of the electoral process, from the opening of polling stations and the voting process to the counting of ballots and ultimately the announcement of results after the return of election writs.
After which they will issue a statement of its preliminary observations and hold a press conference in Port Moresby.
The final report will be presented to the newly elected Government and the EC, along with other stakeholders.
The Commonwealth observer team comprises:

  • BARON Divavesi Waqa (chairman, former Nauru president);
  • DR Nicole George (lecturer and researcher, University of Queensland, Australia);
  • MAKERETA Komaidrue (editor, Pacific Islands News Association, Fiji);
  • DAME Winifred Laban (assistant vice-chancellor (Pasifika) Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand);
  • MAKERETA Vaaelua (deputy returning officer, Samoa EC);
  • HENDRICK Gappy (former Seychelles electoral commission chairman);
  • PETER Kenilorea Jr (member of parliament and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Solomon Islands);
  • JOHNSON Honimae (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer); and,
  • EMELINE Siale Ilolahia (Tonga Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations executive director).

Australia, likewise, will also be observing GE22 as an international observer, at the invitation of the Government and EC.
International observers have an important role in the electoral process across the world as their observations are aimed at improving transparency and credibility.
Observing as part of a wider international observation effort, they are not allowed to interfere in the electoral process and have even signed the EC’s Code of Conduct for Observers.