Cost For PNG Candidates Who Wish To Challenge Election Results Going Up

High fees to ensure losers are certain of claims in election petitions 

By Oseah Philemon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 16, 2016) – Losing candidates intending to challenge their defeat in the Court of Disputed Returns will have to dig deep into their pockets.

Chief Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has confirmed that legislative changes are being made to increase the fees for election petitions from the current K5000 [US$1,540] to K20,000 [US$6,160].

Mr Gamato said the National Executive Council had approved the change which takes effect in the National Election next year.

He also announced that the nomination fee for the local level government election in 2018 would be increased.

Drafting instructions had been sent to the Legislative Counsel to draft changes to the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections to effect the changes.

The changes would be brought to Parliament in January 2017 with the aim of getting them passed by the March sitting for implementation.

Mr Gamato said proposed changes to the law would require petitioners to file their petitions only in five centres – Port Moresby for Southern region, Lae (Momase), Kokopo (Islands) and Mount Hagen and Goroka (Highlands).

It is proposed that the election petitions would be filed 40 days from the date of the return of writs.

Under the current system petitioners could file their election petitions 40 days after a seat was declared at any provincial national court registry.

This would now change when the law is passed by Parliament.

Petitioners would have to deposit the K20,000 as security to cover the anticipated costs before the court registry accepts their petition.

The change to the law would put pressure on losing candidates intending to challenge the election results to be absolutely certain about their chances of winning before they started.

Mr Gamato said following the 2012 national election 106 election petitions were filed in the Court of Disputed Returns, costing the Electoral Commission K43 million [US$13 million] to defend them.

The Commission’s website states that the Solicitor-General was assisting in vetting the outstanding legal bills from four law firms.

When completed the information would be given to the Inter-Departmental Election Committee headed by the Chief Secretary to Government Isaac Lupari to look for funds to pay the lawyers.

Apart from the monies owed to the lawyers the commission also owed another K17 million [US$% million] to other service providers.

Mr Gamato said the outstanding bills were a potential risk for the upcoming National Election as well as the local level government election that would follow.

At the recent election managers and assistant election managers’ workshop held in Mount Hagen Mr Gamato told his officers he wanted to see less election petitions filed after the 2017 National Election.

PNG Post-Courier
Copyright © 2016 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Add new comment