By REBECCA KUKU
THE Pangu Pati and its coalition parties have 46 elected MPs in camp and are confident of forming the next government, says party leader and Prime Minister James Marape.
In a joint media conference with the leaders of the party’s coalition partners last night in Port Moresby, Marape said they were hoping to get around 80 MPs by the end of the week.
He said they were a group of like-minded leaders who wanted to complete what they started three years ago.
The 46 is made up of 22 from Pangu, five from the United Resource Party, four from the National Alliance, three Independent candidates, three from the People’s Party, two from the Social Democratic Party, two from the People’s First Party, and one each from the Liberal Party, People’s Reform Party, People’s Progress Party, United Labour Party, and Destiny Party.
“We have other parties who have also expressed interest in joining us,” he said.
“So far, out of the 58 MPs elected into office, 46 are in the Pangu and coalition parties’ camp,” he said.
Marape remained confident that Pangu and its coalition partners would be invited to form the government by the end of the week.
“Come next week Tuesday, this camp will go to Parliament with 80-plus MPs,” he said.
He also thanked the coalition partners for standing with Pangu again. “Our rights in the resource sectors, and to pass back more benefits to citizens as we continue the work of leaving no place or person behind in as far as development is concerned,” he said.
Return of writs brought forward by a week, says Sinai
THE return of writs for the General Election 2022 (GE22) has been brought forward by one week to Friday, Aug 5, says Electoral Commissioner (EC) Simon Sinai.
It was originally planned for last Friday, July 29, but then moved last week to Aug 12.
Sinai said he sought the extension “as a precaution to enable scrutiny and counting to be concluded and for results to be declared in the provincial open electorates”.
He discussed it with Governor-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae on Friday.
He cited “special circumstances” which warrant the extension of the return of writs, noting delays during the polling from serious security issues, attacks on ballot boxes and counting centres, air and maritime logistical challenges, inclement weather, and petitions.
He said EC was committed to returning most, if not all, of the writs by Friday, to enable all, if not most, of the elected MPs to participate in the first sitting of Parliament to elect a speaker and prime minister.
“The extension has been sought based upon the four-person Supreme Court interpretation of the relevant provisions of the constitution dealing with the return of writs,” he said.
Return of writs deadline change valid, says Kwa
JUSTICE Department Secretary and Attorney-General Dr Eric Kwa says Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai’s decision to change the date for the return of writs to Friday is valid and according to the existing law.
Dr Kwa said Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai’s decision was according to the existing law.
“The power to extend the date for the return of writs, is provided for under the Organic Law on the National and Local-level Government Elections and the Constitution (Sections 105, 126, Schedule 1.2, 1.16 of the Constitution and Sections 80 and 177 of the Organic Law on the National and Local-level Government Elections),” he added.
Kwa said in determining whether to extend the date for the return of writs, three critical issues had to be considered in light of the legal framework, including the court precedent. They are:
- WOULD the Electoral Commission (EC) be able to return “the majority of writs” by last Friday (July 29)?
- WHAT is the date for the return of writs for the last (general election (GE17)?
- WHAT date would be sufficient time to return the writs to be as close to the date for the return of writs for the last Parliament?
Kwa said Sinai advised that it would not be possible to return “the majority of writs” by last Friday (July 29).
“The majority of writs here equates to 60 plus writs. He said as of noon on Friday, Sinai had only received fewer than 20 writs.
Kwa said the date for the return of writs was extended twice to enable the EC to return the majority of writs.
“In 2017, the date for the return of writs was set at July 24.”
However, this date was first extended to July 28 by the EC.
The second extension was ordered by the Supreme Court to July 31.