Commonwealth Observer Group 'Very Disappointed' In PNG's Electoral Roll

Reports from 2012 election called on Election Commission to create 'credible roll' not actualized

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 11, 2017) – The Commonwealth Observer Group says a key issue and challenge to the National Election has been the significant number of eligible voters whose names were not on the Electoral Roll. The Group was “very disappointed” to note that previous Commonwealth Observer Groups’ reports that highlighted the need to address this issue, have yet to be implemented.

Chair Sir Anand Satyanand said it was critical that adequate expertise and funding required by the Electoral Commission for creating a credible roll should be provided in a timely manner before the next election. “The people of Papua New Guinea deserve better and eligible voters must be allowed to exercise their democratic right and participate in their national elections.”

“We recognise the fact that despite the shortcomings associated with the Common Roll, observed in all four regions of the country, political parties and candidates continued to participate in the elections.”

“The Election Campaign and Media Environment Our Group was advised that the campaign for the 2017 election was more subdued compared to previous elections.”

“However, our Advance Team which arrived on June 7 observed a competitive and lively election campaign environment in several places, including the Highlands region. Large public rallies were held and were well attended.

“There were no reported restrictions on the freedoms vital to a campaign period, that of assembly or expression.”

“We note with concern a number of reported incidents of alleged vote buying, including through using state resources and provincial and district development funds made available to incumbents. These funds were alleged to have been used to buy voters’ support or for projects to induce voters.”

Sir Anand said the Group was advised that money politics has significantly influenced the electoral process and may have led to an uneven playing field for the parties and candidates in the 2017 elections.

The Electoral Commission and the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commissionshould consider the formulating of campaign finance regulations through appropriate legislation.

PNG Post-Courier
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