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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier) - Independent election watchdogs are helping to reduce election fraud in Papua New Guinea says Electoral Commission head Andrew Trawen.

Trawen spoke at the Electoral Commission headquarters in Port Moresby after a preliminary meeting with a team of election experts from New Zealand on Sunday.

The Electoral Commission asked Transparency International (PNG) to organize the integrity audit and take part in it.

TI sits on the commission’s National Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) Advisory Committee and Mr. Trawen, the Electoral Commissioner, is the chairman.

This latest integrity audit is reviewing and recommending ways of tightening election procedures, improving financial support for the Electoral Commission and overcoming stumbling blocks under election laws.

The audit started in Port Moresby yesterday.

Trawen said the Electoral Commission did not initiate the integrity audit because of dishonest voting in the Anglimp-South Wahgi and Chimbu National Parliament LPV by-elections in the Highlands earlier this year.

He was commenting on the Post-Courier’s Page 9 lead story last Friday headlined LPV "elections illegal."

The news report said the May to June Anglimp-South Wahgi and Chimbu by-elections in the Highlands were illegal, according to an election report by watchdogs from AusAID and Transparency International (TI). It said the ballots were unlawful because the uncorrected 2002 Common Roll was used in Anglimp South-Wahgi by-election and not used at all in Chimbu.

Trawen says all National Parliament by-elections were legal despite the use of the uncorrected 2002 Common Roll.

He says his staffs try to correct the Common Roll continually and do not get help from what he calls dishonest community leaders.

This happened in the Chimbu by-election this year.

Trawen says the Common Roll had been imperfect since the third election after Independence in 1987 when money-politics, violence and dishonesty replaced the clean elections of the past.

"The election report quoted was done by TI not AusAID," says Trawen.

October 6, 2004

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