PNG Political Party Registrar Suggested Constitutional Changes

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Gelu defends proposal to modify no-confidence provisions

By Alexander Rheeney

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 6, 2014) – The Registrar of Political Parties Alphonse Gelu yesterday said his office was behind the proposed constitutional amendments which would see politicians from the ruling party contest the Prime Minister’s post after a successful vote of no-confidence.

"This proposal is from the registry, it is not from the Government," Mr Gelu told reporters in in a press conference in Port Moresby.

"I have to make that very clear. This proposal to amend section 145, to allow the ruling party to nominate a candidate in the event that a prime minister is removed through a vote of no-confidence, is a proposal that the registry proposed and not the O’Neill Dion Government."

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill also denied his Government proposed the amendments and said it was part of work by the Integrity Commission.

The Post-Courier yesterday reported that the Government proposed the amendments and members were advised of the bills in a circular dated May 28, 2014 issued by Vela Konivaro, the National Parliament Clerk.

Kandep MP Don Polye and Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil criticised the proposed amendments and said the position of PM should be open to all members of parliament during a vote of no- confidence.

A coalition partner in the current Government told this newspaper, on the condition of anonymity, that it was sceptical about the proposed changes. But Mr Gelu yesterday said the bills are part of broad reforms that the Integrity Commission has been working on since last year to make the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) compliant with the Constitution and all political parties were updated on the work that they were undertaking.

"Since 2013 when we started work on this revised package, all the political party officials have been well informed about all this changes. In fact in November last year in Kimbe we had a workshop for all the political party officials and the legal team went into detail about this proposal so I would say that all the political party officials are aware," Mr Gelu said.

The ultimate objective of the reforms led by the commission is to restore political stability in line with the aspirations of the OLIPPAC. Besides the proposed amendments to section 145, the bills will ban the practice by other political parties jostling for power to hold "camps" while the government formation process is underway, he added.

Mr Gelu also agreed that the proposed amendments, especially relating to section 145, will benefit the People’s National Congress (PNC) as it was the party that was invited to form Government after the 2012 general election. However, he denied they were done to keep the party in government.

"To suggest that this is a move to maintain the current government in office is totally fabricated by the media report. It just happens that PNC is in power right now, it could have been other parties for that matter," he said.

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