PNG Election Commissioner Uses Authority To Delay Local-Level Elections By 12 Months

Gamato take action after Parliament adjourned without amending Organic Law

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 7, 2017) – Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has used his electoral administrative powers to defer the local level government elections for another 12 months.

He had used his discretionary powers following Parliament’s decision on Tuesday to adjourn early and not make constitutional amendments to the Organic Law to postpone the elections to next year.

Mr Gamato advised Chief Secretary to Government Isaac Lupari, who is also the inter-departmental elections committee chairman, of his decision yesterday.

Mr Lupari said last night he has received an official letter from Mr Gamato advising of the decision to defer the LLG elections to July 24, 2018.

The Lupari committee was set in place to co-ordinate election arrangements between the Electoral Commission and relevant government agencies including the police and military.

Mr Gamato had previously advised Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Leo Dion to defer the LLG elections because the amendment to change the Organic Law to deter LLG elections was still in Parliament and would take two more readings for passage because it was a constitutional amendment.

But Parliament had risen on Tuesday and the legislation was not addressed, allowing him to use his electoral administrative powers to defer the elections.

Mr Gamato said yesterday that initially he had sought legal advice soon after the adjournment of Parliament.

But last night, Mr Lupari said that Mr Gamato had the authority under the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections to defer the elections for 12 months.

It was not clear under which section the Electoral Commissioner had used but it is understood Mr Gamato used his powers under section 97(2) of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections.

"We have received an official letter from Electoral Commissioner informing us that the LLG election has been deferred for 12 months," Mr Lupari said. "He has the authority and under the (Electoral Commission) Act, he has the administrative powers to defer the elections," he added.

The original set of six election legislation that were before Parliament for approval were:

  • Separation of National and LLG elections (to defer LLG elections to 12 months after the return of National Election writs);
  • Increase in nomination fees for National Election to K10,000,00 and LLG elections to K1000 which have now been shelved;
  • Increase in filing fees from K5000 to K20,000;
  • Filing places for election petitions (regional National and Supreme Court registries);
  • Provincial governments to conduct LLG elections; and
  • On-line-enrolments.

Yesterday, at the National Research Institute Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told the public that PNG needed some electoral reforms and these legislation, especially the nomination and petition fees would be dealt with in the next Parliament.

PNG Post-Courier
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