Rolls not updated, Barker says

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THE lack of preparation for a major event such as the General Election 2022 (GE22) is a concern, Institute of National Affairs (INA) director Paul Barker says.
Barker, who gave his insight on GE22, said the election was worrisome because electoral rolls for the constituencies had not been updated since 2017.
“Achieving a successful election and outcome depend on good preparation and organisation by the PNG Electoral Commission, returning officers, staff, volunteers, all supporting agencies and also full cooperation from the wider public,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that the preparation has been deficient and belated, with extra challenges from the rather ad-hoc additional seats introduced at the last minute.
“What is concerning is the apparent lack of preparation for this major event, despite five years to be ready.
“Electoral rolls for the constituencies have not been updated since 2017, when they were also not rigorously updated, potentially leaving much of the potential adult population, in this fast growing populace, off the roll,” he said.
Barker said the younger voters had a constitutional right to make their choice for each seat.
“We know that across the country in past elections, there have been extensive abuses, which seemed to be widely systematic in 2017, where whole elections seemed stage managed, with extensive abuses, from the start to end of the process, from the roll, to the opportunity for voters to choose, sometimes with block voting, or voters only being allowed their 2nd or 3rd preferences, with ballot papers pre-filled.
“We’ve already seen containers with tampered papers halted by police,” Barker said.
“This highlights the immense temptation and readiness to defraud the election process.
“We’ve seen candidates’ vehicles held up, tragic violence and over 30 election-related deaths reported, even before polling has started.
“Why? There is clearly excessive gain from winning,” he said.
Barker said an MP was meant to be a representative of their whole electorate in Parliament, but the control over district services improvement programme (DSIP) funds and potential influence over extensive appointments and other resources had distorted an MP’s role, and engagement with the constituency.
“The number of weapons out there in the community, especially in some districts and provinces, is very concerning, as this is well beyond the security forces’ capacity to manage.”
“Candidates who win by cheating and bullying are invalid winners with no credibility,” Barker said.

Ballots shredded

Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai shredding ballot papers for the Komo-Margarima electorate in Hela yesterday at the Air Transport wing in Port Moresby. – Nationalpic by KENNEDY BANI

A TOTAL of 648,478 ballot papers for the seven electorates that were split by the Government in May were shredded and destroyed by the Electoral Commission yesterday at the Air Transport wing in Port Moresby.
Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai said destroying the papers were part of the process of managing General Election 2022 (GE22).
“We feel that destroying the ballot papers was necessary because this process is about being transparent and for everyone to know,” he said.
He said 101,878 ballot papers were for the Kairuku-Hiri electorate, 194,600 for Laigaip-Porgera electorate, 44,100 for Middle-Fly, 88,500 for Talasea, 48,600 for Ijivitari, 11,000 Sohe, 44,000 Bulolo, 106,450 Komo-Margarima and 6,400 for Kandep were destroyed.

Independent candidate passes away days before polling

Late Ron Ganarafo

ANOTHER General Election 2022 (GE22) candidate Ron Ganarafo (Independent – Daulo) has passed away.
Daulo Elections Returning Officer John Kopi confirmed the death of the former cabinet minister who died last Thursday.
Kopi said Ganarafo was one of the 57 male candidates contesting in Daulo.
The incumbent MP is Pogio Ghate (People’s National Congress).
Ganarafo’s family members and relatives from Runumbe also confirmed that Ganrafo died from respiratory complications.
Ganarafo had served two parliamentary terms from 1997 to 2002 for the sixth Parliament and 2012 to 2017 for the ninth Parliament
He was appointed Finance Vice Minister after the formation of the Skate Government in 1997 until May 1998 when he was disqualified by the Court of disputed returns, but was reinstated by the Supreme Court.
Ganarafo was made Fisheries minister under the then Morauta Goverment in July 1999, but he lost the seat in GE 2002.
In GE 2017, he lost the seat to Ghate.