Writs issued, nominations deferred

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GOVERNOR-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae issued the writs for the general election at the Government House at around 4.30pm yesterday amid uncertainty and confusion.
This followed an announcement made by Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai an hour earlier that the issue of writs would be deferred by seven days.
When announcing the deferment, Sinai said it was in respect of the passing of Deputy Prime Minister and Bulolo MP Sam Basil and the United Labour Party of which he was also the leader.
Sir Bob said the date of the issue of writs had been differed once already and could not be deferred for a second time.
Sir Bob then went ahead and signed more than 460 writs for all the electorates in the country.
According to a statement from Government House, Sir Bob was only made aware of the death yesterday afternoon while preparing to formally issue the writs at 4pm.
However, Sir Bob informed Sinai that he would issue the writs and not accept another deferral.
“The 10 million people of Papua New Guinea have been waiting for this day,” he said. “Many are ready to pay their nomination fees as soon as the writs are issued at 4pm this afternoon. We have delayed two weeks until today so I will issue the writs today. We cannot keep our people waiting.
“I was not informed of the deferral until this (yesterday) afternoon as I was not informed beforehand and have already signed all the writs dated today.
“I will issue the writs and it is up to you as electoral commissioner to use your powers to decide how you will proceed from here on.”
Sinai said Sir Bob had done the ceremony of issuing the writs, marking the start of the election process.
He said the Electoral Commission under the Constitution had the right and powers to manage the dates, situation, process, the conduct and operations of the office so this was one of them.
“It’s a process the governor-general has started,” he said.
“Now I am going to make assessment and see what is before me.
“We have a situation here.
“It is within my powers now to make some decisions so to the people of PNG, I am now calling for the first nominations on Wednesday next week and onwards. We are extending the close of nomination by another seven days.
“The nomination starts on Wednesday next week.
He said the nomination would close the following week Thursday (May 26).

PM plans for Basil’s State funeral

PRIME Minister James Marape says a State funeral will be accorded to his Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil who was killed in a road accident in Morobe on Wednesday evening.
The body was at the main hospital in Lae and was expected to be flown to Port Moresby for the funeral service.
Marape said Basil’s family requested for a post-mortem.
“We are working with family to see if the post-mortem can be carried out in Lae, the body will be flown out into Port Moresby,” he said. “Unfortunately, Parliament has risen for the term, the body can lie in State, those will be announced in due course.
“The Government is liaising with Parliament to ensure we give him proper respect. A proper State funeral service will be accorded to the deputy prime minister.
“This is maybe the first time a deputy prime minister of the country has passed in office.
“We don’t have set protocols to be accorded in that respect and so we will base it on the precedent of the late William Samb (Goilala MP) a few weeks ago.
“To the children, family as well as the people of Wau, Bulolo, you have been with your leader for the last 15 years.
“Unfortunately it has to end this way.”

MP: Untimely, tragic loss

UNITED Labour Party (ULP) deputy leader and MP Lekwa Gure described the passing of party leader MP Sam Basil as “very untimely and a tragic loss to his Bulolo people and the country”.
But, he said the party would carry on his legacy and support endorsed candidates in this general election.
Following a meeting with party officials yesterday, Gure said: “We resolved that we will continue with his legacy in our preparations for the coming elections and we will work with our coalition partners, Pangu particularly, during the election period.
“That is the commitment that the party officials have given.
“We will continue the dream he had.
“We would like to give assurance to those candidates that have signed up with ULP, that we will support them to the best of our ability.”