PNG Electoral Commission Prepares To Present Writs

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PNC leader Peter O’Neill expected to take up national leadership

By Shirlyn Belden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, August 1, 2012) – Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen is prepared to present election writs for all except three seats to the governor-general today to officially conclude the 2012 general election in Papua New Guinea.

Trawen will also recommend that the leader of the People’s National Congress Party (PNC), Peter O’Neill, be invited by the governor-general to form the next government.

Trawen said yesterday: "It is now evident that PNC has secured the most members elected with 27 members so far equaling the record set by National Alliance in 2007."

O’Neill confirmed last night that preparations were advanced on the recall of parliament at 10am on Friday when the chief justice and the clerk of parliament would conduct the election of the speaker and the prime minister.

His Alotau camp, now pushing 80 MPs, would decamp tomorrow to fly to the capital.

The Kokopo camp of Belden Namah had attacked the recall of parliament as premature, insisting that the election be properly concluded and all writs must be in before parliament met.

Should the governor-general invite O’Neill to form government, he has no more than seven days under the law to call parliament.

As of last night, Trawen confirmed receiving 81 writs while 30, including 24 from those already declared, were yet to be returned from the open and provincial electorates.

So far, 105 electorates were declared while six were still in their counting and elimination stages last night.

The three provincial seats of the National Capital District (NCD), Western Highlands and Enga had been given a week’s extension to conclude their electoral processes. They are expected to return their writs by next Wednesday.

Jiwaka, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands regional seats, which were still counting, were expected to be concluded in time today. However, their deadlines had also been extended to next Wednesday as a precaution.

"I have given advice to the governor-general to further extend the date for return of writs for the remaining provincial electorates of NCD, Western Highlands and Enga. The new date is Wednesday, Aug 8, which is next week.

"I have also covered Chimbu, Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands in that advice in case they run out of time to return their writs today."

Trawen said from the election reports he received, there were 62 new MPs elected and 40 sitting MPs returned.

"In percentage, 61% are new faces while 39% are re-elected MPs," he said.

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