Papua New Guinea Governor General Sir Bob Dadae is expected to announce if the 2022 National General Election will proceed as scheduled or deferred for two weeks.
This follows the PNG Electoral Commission’s (PNGEC) official request for the issue of writs date and opening of nominations to be extended from 28 April (this Thursday) to 12 May The request was formally made to the Governor General at 2pm Monday.
PNGEC boss Simon Sinai confirmed with the Post-Courier that he had presented the formal letter requesting the extension of the issue of writs date to Sir Bob.
He confirmed 12 May as the proposed date but assured that the return of writs date of 29 July remained.
The campaign period, however, would be reduced to seven weeks to compensate for the delay, Sinai said.
“Yes I have presented the formal notice to the Governor General Sir Bob Dadae and he advised us that he will be seeking further and legal advice before responding to the formal notice tomorrow (today),” Sinai said.
The Government House advised Monday that the Vice Regal would seek further advice, including legal, on the matter before he responded to the request.
“On the delay of issue of writs, the Governor General has received formal notice from the Electoral Commission,” a Government House official said.
“The Governor General has decided to seek further advice, including legal advice, on the matter before he proceeds.”
Sinai has already stated his wish for election to be delayed by two weeks due to outstanding issues, including ballot papers for the seven new electorates, the changes for the reprint runs, funding issues and Covid-19 protocols.
The other issue was the Electoral Roll, which the PNGEC was expected to officially announce within the time-frame, including the appointment, announcement and gazettal of the election officials, the returning officers, assistant returning officers and election managers among others.
Former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says any delay in the election process would undermine the country’s democracy and the constitutional laws of our country.
He said a term of Parliament was fixed and people must have their fair say through an election, and no government had the right to defer the voting process.
“No excuse or reason is good enough, the government has failed our people and nation through lack of proper preparation and funding,” O’Neill said.
“Everyone knows this, comes every five years and there is no excuse.
“The government’s complete incompetence is now on display before the whole world, no wonder they continue to refer to us as a failed state.
“We are not, but a few leaders continue to let us down.” he said
Meanwhile, the delay in the Issue of Writs will have an adverse implication on the security preparedness especially in the Highlands Region, says former Police Commissioner Gari Baki.
Baki said that the intention for a proposed delay in the Issue of Writ can lead to frustration from the intending candidates and chaos from the supporters of the intending candidates and opportunists.
“The proposed delay will throw the entire operational preparedness of the security forces into chaos; it will also throw back the preparations by two weeks.
“Delays lead to frustration, frustration lead to destruction and when that happens police will have to be deployed earlier than expected to deal with the issue and by the time the election proper comes around, it will be another struggle to get manpower into the troubled districts,” Baki said.
“Election has not started yet but I am sure the rumble and grumble of intending candidates will be heard in the Highlands especially in Enga, Hela and Southern Highlands.
“There are two issues that can happen in the proposed deferral, one intending candidates can still muster support before the issue of writs and two the intending candidates can become frustrated with the wait and before you realize what has happened, a fight or destruction occurs.”
Police in Enga said that there is a planned protest for today in Wabag town over the proposed delay by the PNG Electoral Commission.
“We are watching what is happening and we will maintain security,” police said.
Several provincial police commanders said that the preparations by candidates in relation to the media reported date of Issue of Writ on 28 April; 4pm was already under way.
However the candidates are saying that the proposed deferral is a delay tactic by the sitting members of parliament especially in the Highlands.
“We have truckloads of intending candidates coming into the proposed nomination site to nominate, and with word out on the propose delay on the Issue of Writs, the talk is spreading, we are waiting to see what happens,” police say.
It is a warning that police are taking seriously especially in Hela, Enga and Southern Highlands.
In Hela, the province is quiet, in Enga police continue to maintain the province and have reported all districts to be quiet.
Across the border to Southern Highlands, it is quiet.
However, the PPCs maintain it is the “calm before the storm”.
“In Highlands, election is serious business, any talks of any proposed delay or any other delays to dates that many have locked in are a big issue,” one PPC said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS