Polling In PNG's Highlands Provinces Does Not Start On Schedule

Latest reports show Port Moresby polling also delayed

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 27, 2017) – One-day polling for three Highlands provinces did not start on schedule yesterday due to several discrepancies, logistics delays and candidate demands.

Voting in Hela, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands provinces have been postponed to today after a day of disputes by candidates over the Electoral Roll discrepancies. Disturbances were also reported in Central Bougainville over the Electoral Roll, resulting in a postponement to today.

The three Highlands provinces were scheduled to poll yesterday for their one-day polling program, but this did not eventuate, because of logistic problems and demands for own polling presiding officers, including Electoral Roll issues.

[PIR editor's note: At 10:12am on July 27, 2017 PNG Post-Courier reported that 'Minutes ago, Electoral Commissioner Patilus Gamato differed NCD polling to Friday (30/06/2017).' Earlier today the Post-Courier reported that 'More reports are coming in around NCD that polling areas have been abandoned due to electoral officials going on strike. ... Although a joint statement is expected to be made at 11am by the Electoral Commissioner and Police Commissioner, voters are at a loss and beginning to worry that the election may be compromised. ... Speaking to voters at 8 Mile, there are only scrutineers and police but no electoral officials.']]

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato confirmed during his daily 3pm news conference in Port Moresby yesterday, that polling in Hela and Chimbu did not eventuate, while Goroka polled later but there was no polling in other parts of Eastern Highlands. Mr Gamato said that Hela did not poll, because candidates demanded to have their own polling presiding officers on site, while Chimbu had similar issues, including Electoral Roll discrepancies.

Eastern Highlands had some helicopter issues that did not deliver the polling officials to remote areas like Okapa to kick start polling. “Hela and Chimbu were supposed to start today (Monday), but there was a slight delay, because of some issues,” he said.

“The issue in Hela is that the candidates wanted their own presiding officers. I said they could not, because that responsibility is ours, but they should start tomorrow (Tuesday). We still have time for these places to poll,” Mr Gamato said.

Several returning officers and election managers in Hela, Eastern Highlands and Chimbu said last night that they were ready and confident to conduct polling today.

Mr Gamato said that Southern Highlands and Jiwaka provinces are also set for this week, Friday, June 30. Enga and Western Highlands province will vote on July 4. Polling in other parts of the country were reported to have gone smoothly, apart from the Electoral Roll disputes.

NCD has its one-day polling today.

while other provinces – Manus, New Ireland, West New Britain, East New Britain, Gulf, Western, Central, Northern, Milne Bay, Morobe, Madang, East Sepik and West Sepik – and Autonomous Region of Bougainville have started their polling operations which are progressing well.

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