Home > Papua New Guinea, Politics > Outrage after elections delayed

Outrage after elections delayed

By Liam Fox

There is outrage in Papua New Guinea over the government’s decision to defer national elections by six months.

The deputy prime minister says the deferral is not a bid to hang onto power, but many people do not believe him.

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon in PNG, but people are using it to vent their anger at the government.

Robert Kama was in the public gallery when parliament voted for the deferral and he summed up the mood.

“I think the government’s announcement of deferral is in the interests of the government, not the interests of the people of this country,” he said.

The deputy prime minister maintains the deferral is necessary because the government needs more time to adequately prepare for the vote.

But PNG’s former attorney-general, Arnold Amet, says the deferral is unconstitutional [not that Amet ever let that worry him when he was AG! – editor] .

“It is clearly a misconstruction, misinterpretation and whichever legal advisor gave that advice is fundamentally wrong,” he said.

He is also a former chief justice and says PNG’s constitution only allows the life of parliament to be extended in an emergency such as a war.

The opposition says it will challenge the deferral in court.

The move comes despite repeated assurances from prime minister Peter O’Neill that polling would go ahead as planned.

Voting was due to begin at the end of June.

If the deferral goes ahead it will be the first time in PNG’s history that elections will not be held every five years.

This is not going to go down very well with locals in Papua New Guinea. I did manage to speak to some of the people who were in the public gallery, who saw what went on, and not a single one supported this move.

They all said that they wanted the election to take place as soon as possible so that the people can sort out this ongoing political drama this leadership tussle between Peter O’Neil and the man he replaced, Sir Michael Somare.

Indeed, one of the people I talked to was a prospective candidate who said he’s now disadvantaged – he has been getting ready to proceed with the elections and campaign and now he can’t do that.

Warning to Australia

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea has warned other countries, particularly Australia, not to interfere in its internal affairs.

Perhaps in anticipation of an international backlash, deputy prime minister Belden Namah warned other countries not to interfere.

He singled out Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr who floated, then later retracted, the idea of imposing sanctions on Papua New Guinea if elections were delayed.

“Whatever Mr Bob Carr says about sanctions, I want to say this: do not threaten the independence of this country,” Mr Namah said.

Mr Carr is yet to comment.

But in a statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard made no mention of sanctions but maintained Australia believed the elections should be held on time.

“While we respect Papua New Guinea’s sovereignty, as a strong supporter and long-time friend of Papua New Guinea, Australia believes the elections should be held on time, in accordance with the constitution,” she said.

“Papua New Guinea’s democracy has to date had a good record of holding elections on time.”

  1. April 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

    O’niell and Namah regime are manifested with demon. The Legal Advisor I guise is Prof. Nongorr’s Ex-wife, Tiffany Twivey! This is absolute corruption-buying time to do their deeds by using JCB and SWF created in Parliment! Our democracy is becoming “demon-crazy” for the “devil-upments” instead of developments!

  2. Drex
    April 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Guys lets call a war! then only we can do the right, know the right, and live the right. What a stupid generation we are now from the top down1 no one is doing the right.

  3. PK
    April 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Liam Fox and All! The lone and enigmatic Leader of Opposition, Dame Carol who does more thinking than pooping like most bloggers and politicians on the challenges confronting us right now spoke for the majority of politicians, for the majority of intending candidates and what she said represents where the country is. The 63-11 vote by Parliament is a vote of No Confidence in the Electoral Commission in respect of its 2012 election preparations. She agrees and understands why the deferral may be necessary although her estimate of two months to complete preparations is unrealistic.

    If the country goes to the election on the fifth anniversary of the life of this Parliament chaos, havoc, confusion, skulduggery and the problems that the Electoral Commission has never got on top at successive elections will reign to such a magnitude that there are areas in the country where elections will be deemed or declared a failure.

    The Chief Electoral Commission must carry the can (and the worms) for what has happened. HE has never confidently told or proved beyond any reasonable doubt to the leaders and the people of this country that he is ready to roll. Or that the all electoral/common rolls have been finalized and are in order. He has had 5 years to prepare, a lot of money thrown at him and has at his beck and call highly paid consultants around him to guide, advice and assist him.

    WHAT we see, read and hear now is Mr Trawen is hiding behind AusAID advisors that seem to have convinced him that it is not the darn thing to postpone the elections whether the Electoral Commission is ready or not because the Australians won’t like it one bit after having their noses bloodied by Fiji. We got through the 2007 elections on the back of management and some hard-nosed prowess of Paul Bengo supported by some clever legal handiwork from Prof. Nongorr.

    Honestly, if the police aren’t confident that security is in place, if PNGEC is not forthright in advising that its personnel, its logistics and all the Provinces are in a state of readiness these elections will be a total fiasco. Masses will be disenfranchised – denied in fact – at the polls and the Electoral Commissioner has said or shown nothing to convince us otherwise. This occurs at every election.

    The worst decision that any Government or Parliament would have made concerning the impending elections is to not have made the decision to postpone the elections. The reasons and risks associated with Parliament’s decision far outweigh any legal, constitutional or political argument that just simply says the hour has come to go to the polls.

    The Somare Government (which included the majority of MPs in the current Government) had 4 years when it should have periodically pulled up the Electoral Commissioner to account – demanding regular briefs and concrete proof of updates of electoral roll and election security preparations. Instead, the main orientation for election and electoral preparations was focused on sitting MPs returning. DSIP and other political funding were largely geared to influence the electorate.

    This is a time for politicians to put the interest of the Nation and the People ahead their own. The decision of the Parliament (63-11) to put back the elections is a clarion call for all politicians to realize that all is neither well nor ready in terms PNGEC and security preparations to proceed with the elections now.

    AND, incidentally, if Amet challenges the Parliament’s decision in the Courts, there will always be apprehension of bias with certain judges so much so that the independence and impartiality of this Judiciary to arrive at fair, impartial and competent decisions is now highly questionable susceptible. AND, particularly, when Kirriwom has reprehensibly declared war on the Government and Parliament.

  4. budiadigoako
    April 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Only 2 Million voters would have voted if we went to d polls in April 27, rolls for d highlands and d momase regions were never updated. D electoral commission has continued to mislead PNGs about d facts, many voters would have been turned away at d polls due to no name. The elections were rigged to bring Somare back and to break Oniells power base in d highlands, legally d electoral commissioners office has been vacant for d last three years with d full knowledge of d Somare Govt.

  5. Anthony marome
    April 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Is this dictatorship?

    April 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    bUDIADIGOAK, in the last election more votes were counted than there were voters. It think bad electoral rolls might get our votes down to a more believable level, don’t you?

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