Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea, Politics > O’Neill says election will not be delayed – but what about Namah?

O’Neill says election will not be delayed – but what about Namah?

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, says the nation will have an election on June 23 as scheduled, as public outcry mounts against parliament’s decision to delay the poll by six months.

But Mr O’Neill is proposing the issuing of electoral writs be delayed by one month, arguing voters need more time to inspect the rolls.

It is unclear if electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen, a staunch opponent of the delay, has agreed to the deal.

The proposal comes as Port Moresby braces for protests as news spreads of last week’s controversial parliamentary vote.

That vote by 63 MPs, Mr O’Neill says, was not binding, serving only to voice parliament’s frustration at the unpreparedness of the rolls in the critical, and resource-rich, Highlands region.

‘Let me assure the nation that, except for the date for the issue of the writs, the 2012 elections will go ahead as scheduled by the electoral commissioner,’ Mr O’Neill said in a statement.

Much of the statement spelled out details of a four-hour crisis cabinet meeting attended Mr Trawen.

Mr O’Neill says both cabinet and the electoral commission agreed that the unpreparedness of voting rolls by April 27 was critical and warranted deferral of the election.

The statement only bears Mr O’Neill’s signature, and a spokesman for Mr Trawen would not comment when read its contents.

He said Mr Trawen would make a statement on Tuesday.

However, earlier in the day, Mr Trawen said he was seeking legal advice on the constitutionality of the decision made by parliament on April 5 to defer the elections until October.

‘I will proceed to advise the Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio to issue writs for the 2012 elections as scheduled on 27th April, 2012,’ he said in a statement on Monday.

‘And I want the people of PNG to know that I have always maintained that the commission is prepared and the 2012 elections will go ahead as planned.’

Mr Trawen said preparations were on track and the commission was doing its best to prepare and deliver credible electoral rolls for a June 23 poll.

Mr O’Neill surprised the nation and international observers by backing away from parliament’s vote on Saturday morning.

He said a report cited in parliament, and written by Mr Trawen, did not recommend differing the poll, a claim made by some MPs before the vote to delay.

The proposal comes as Port Moresby shows signs of growing public outcry against parliament’s decision.

A convoy of 10 buses made its way through out the city on Monday, urging a public demonstration in the centre of the city.

There was also a public concert on Ela Beach, where in between songs presenters urged the public to make its voice known.

Students, unionists and former soldiers are expected to attend.

‘I hope it will be peaceful,’ said Godfrey Aisi, who is among a group of former soldiers who will join unions and students on Tuesday morning.

‘We will be angry if the PM does not come and face us.

‘But we will peaceful. We hope the police don’t use teargas on us.’

Critics of the move say PNG’s 36-year-old constitution spells out strict five-year parliamentary terms and gives MPs the power to call early elections, but not defer them.

The police and military have also said they were ready for the elections, Mr Trawen said.

Former prime minister Sir Michael Somare and former attorney-general Sir Arnold Amet say the move is blatantly unconstitutional.

‘No parliament since independence has used its numbers to buy more time in office than these desperate 63 members of parliament who voted for the deferral of the elections,’ Sir Michael said.

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  1. Allan G
    April 10, 2012 at 9:55 am

    As a Papua New Guinean, it saddens me to see da leaders of my country act in such maner. Deffering da election only shows greed to stay in power longer. Decision that they make should b in da best interest of the country and not on self interest or base on emotions.

  2. Cii En Torot
    April 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Organisation of Polling is an administrative issue. If Mr Trawen is confident than why is the Parliament so decisive in their arguments for deferral of the polls. If member of Parliament need more time to prepare themselves for Elections than let it spit out. Four years is an ample time for a member to build his foundation simply in serving his or her electorate. Only if one was not doing enough than he or she can call for extension but than this is unconstitutional.

  3. Nhate
    April 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Sounds more like he is saying one thing and doing the other. Typical…

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