PNG PM: No By-Election For Hela Province Governor

With less than 12 months until next election, no poll must happen

By Malum Nalu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, August 11, 2016) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says there will be no by-election in Hela to elect a governor because the country is less than 12 months away from 2017 general election.

He said this in Parliament following a suggestion by Kavieng MP Ben Micah that funds be allocated for the by-election, given the problems which had arisen in the province since the death of Governor Anderson Agiru in April.

O’Neill said there was less than 12 months remaining before the issue of writs.

“The law quite clearly states that no by-election should be conducted (in such cases),” he said.

“We have (also) received reports from police that they are unable to provide proper security for that by-election because of a lot of tribal fights are happening in that province. It is necessary for us to only appoint an acting governor through the assembly when it convenes after parliament ends. There will be an acting governor until 2017.”

He said Micah, the leader of the People Progress Party, must have already picked his candidate for the by-election.

“But he can wait till 2017 and have his chance then,” O’Neill said.

Micah said Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion and the State Solicitor had different views on the recent selection of the acting governor by the provincial assembly.

Sir Leo said the Government recognised Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP Philip Undialu as the duly elected acting governor.

The State lawyer however said Undialu’s election by the assembly was flawed.

Komo-Magarima MP Francis Potape also claims that he had been elected to the position.

Meanwhile, O’Neill yesterday welcomed questions in Parliament from the Opposition on the national economy.
He said in a statement debate on economic issues was important as the country had a “positive economic story to tell”.

“The facts are that the economy is growing, and that is obvious to anyone who wants to be honest,” he said.

“The country is changing and the country is developing. We are facing challenges like all economies right now with lower commodity prices. But our economy is in a much stronger position than what some people want to admit. The fundamentals of our economy are strong and we are attracting investment to our country.”

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