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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 26, 2001 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---A member of Papua New Guinea's Parliament who is insolvent or habitually drunk must be dismissed from public office.

This is one of several recommendations to the National Executive Council by the Constitutional Development Commission on changes to electoral laws and their administration.

CDC’s acting director, Russell Ikosi, told a Transparency International (PNG) workshop in Port Moresby that a dismissed MP must not be qualified to hold other leadership positions again and this must apply to all leaders under the Leadership Code.

The CDC has also recommended that a leadership tribunal must continue to have jurisdiction over an MP (and other leaders) who are referred to such a tribunal for prosecution even after they are terminated or do not hold any leadership post. If found guilty, penalties other than dismissal should be imposed.

The consequences of dismissal under any of the dismissal grounds should be for life. In other words, once an MP is dismissed for any of these reasons, he/she should not become qualified to be an MP again. This must be extended to all leaders under the Leadership Code.

Mr. Ikosi said persons who have a criminal conviction or are declared insolvent should not contest any elections.

"That ensures that quality candidates are contesting and getting elected to Parliament," he said.

Other major electoral changes approved by the government include the abolishing of the First-Past-The-Post voting system for a Preferential voting system commencing in 2007.

The CDC has adopted the limited preferential voting system of five, whereby voters chose up to five candidates in their order of preference.

"This system will not be used in 2002 elections but after that," said Mr. Ikosi.

The First-Past-The-Post voting system would, however, still be maintained in the local level government elections.

Mr. Ikosi said the NEC had also approved in principle the removal of the regional or provincial seats but it was now up to the commission to study the roles of governors and work out who would handle such roles after they¹ve gone.

He said this would also mean the introduction of more open seats, and the CDC recommended that an open electorate have a population of 40,000 and that new electorates come into effect in 2007, and be used for the 2007 national general elections.

The commission also recommended that measures be taken to reduce the number of candidates contesting one electorate.

Mr. Ikosi said as opposed to the past when Parliament’s refusal of an Electoral Boundaries Commission was final, the second recommendation by the commission will become law even though rejected by Parliament.

The last electoral boundaries were set in 1977.

Mr. Ikosi said the CDC has also recommended that election petitions filed after each general election should be disposed off expeditiously and that special arrangements made for the court to deal with petitions only.

This particular aspect had been endorsed by the NEC but is now currently before the judiciary for consideration.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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