Observer lauds voters

Main Stories, National

The National, Thursday 05th July, 2012

THE conduct of voters despite the many problems in PNG’s ongoing elections has drawn high praise from at least one leader of international observer groups.
“People have waited patiently for their turn to vote and I commend this spirit and urge voters countrywide to be patient and peaceful throughout the process,” Edward Natapei, former prime minister of Vanuatu and head of the Commonwealth Observers team, said.
There are at least four international teams, East-West Centre, the National Democratic Institute, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Transparency International PNG, observing the elections.
The Commonwealth Secretariat was the only one to respond to the The National’s request for comments while others expected to make available their observations soon.
Natapei considers the conduct of a credible elections critical for PNG to the country’s future following the constitutional crises and political uncertainty of recent months.
“We call on all political parties and stakeholders to play their roles responsibly and to adopt a constructive approach to the entire electoral process, in order to ensure a peaceful and successful poll,” Natapei said.
“The Electoral Commission itself has acknowledged that there was a slow start to the polling due to logistical and weather problems.
“We heard from our observers that the process was progressing slowly but peacefully in other coastal and islands provinces. But we have heard about some skirmishes in the highlands. 
 “The state of the common voter roll has been and remains a concern. 
“Our observers have seen many people turned away at polling stations because their names are not on the roll.”
An international NGO observer made note of certain irregular practices occurring at polling venues, including the omission of names on the common roll.
The observer, who wanted anonymity, urged the Electoral Commission to evaluate the outcomes and plan ahead for 2017.