Pick good leaders, Barker says

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PAPUA New Guinea requires a legitimate Parliament and government after the 2017 national election, Institute of National Affairs director Paul Barker says.
Barker, who was concerned about reports of electoral frauds throughout the country, said PNG needed a legitimate government made up of people elected by the citizens of the country and certainly not comprising people who illegally gained office by fraud and deception.
“There are many reports of problems with the electoral roll in the 2017 election, missing many names which were there before, even in some cases of missing names of sitting members.
“Also, the late receipt of materials or funding and the problems with the roll, or reported additional or prefilled ballot papers, have caused disruptions from as far as Hela, Chimbu, parts of Eastern Highlands, to Northern, parts of Central, through to Kieta.
“It’s reported some locations are still halted, while other electorates (as in EHP) started in the afternoon, providing inadequate time if they stick with one day polling,” Barker said.
He said there were logistical problems and deficient organisation, which was somewhat distinct from systematic fraud.
“Clearly, there are allegations of systemic fraud and other electoral rigging and abuse from various parts of the country involving officials, including security service personnel  facilitating additional boxes, swelling local electoral rolls or shrinking others.
“In some cases the assertions will prove to be false, made by intent or error.
“However, as in past elections, there will, no doubt, be some larger scale (as well as individual) planned fraud and corruption, including inflating and contracting rolls, adding bogus names and removing valid ones.”
He said it was a bit early to assess whether would turn out worse than in 2007 and 2012.
“But it certainly appears to be markedly more disorganised, but whether the fraud is greater, it is probably too early to say.
“Certainly the allegations of abuse are much more apparent, but that may be partly due to the greater and faster dispersion of reports and feedback, notably by way of social media.
“But of course, any fraud and corruption, whether tampering with the roll, threats, bribery or other malpractice, which undermines the free choice of legitimate voters in any constituency to select their candidate of choice, is a crime and a severe abuse, destroying PNG’s democracy and potentially putting people into political office who have no right to be there.”

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