Students claim poll awareness funds missing

National, Normal

The National, Monday 23rd January 2012

A GROUP of University of Papua New Guinea students claim that there are officers in the Electoral Commission who are not working towards achieving a free and fair general election.
The students from Morobe claim that they, like other provincial groups, were selected, trained and promised to go into their districts in Morobe to carry out election awareness. But this has not happened.
The students believe funding from AusAID is not meeting the desired expectation.
The students were approached by the Electoral Commission to run election awareness during their semester break in the districts.
The students mobilised themselves into their six district associations – Huon Gulf, Nawaeb, Bulolo, Markham, Kabwum and Fisika – and underwent two trainings.
They opened a new bank account before being advised to wait for funding and further directions from the commission. 
The students, who now have two weeks left before studies resume, said they were committed to ensuring a free, fair and safe election, but the officers were not being honest in carrying out their duties.
“We used our time and resources. We are frustrated and have lost confidence in the Electoral Commission. It seems this office is not truly working towards a free, fair and safe election this year,” Bulolo representative Clive Kalake said.
Huon Gulf students representative Elliot Borezi said from a planned K20,000 funding plan for each district, they were asked by the commission officers to drop the figure to K10,000 each before settling finally at K5,000.
“We were asked to submit another new activity plan which was different from the first one we did in Lae. But so far there has not been any satisfactory response,” Borezi said.
“It is very important to target the rural communities and the students had dialogue with our different communities who were ready and waiting for us. But we do not have time now, because we only have two weeks before school starts.”
They said colleagues in other provinces were equally affected by the poor coordination and empty promises by the commission.