PNG Governor General concerned about violence, delay in counting

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Papua New Guinea Governor General Sir Bob Dadae has advised Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai that any changes in the election –– including the extension of counting –– must be done within the confines of the Constitution.

Sir Bob, who was concerned about the election -related violence and ballot hijacking in certain parts of the country and the slow pace of polling and counting, had summoned the Electoral Commissioner to brief him on how the election had been conducted.

Official secretary to the Government House Bill Toraso confirmed that Sinai had met with the Sir Bob last Wednesday and assured the vice regal that he would declare almost 100 electorates before the return of writs on Friday this week.

Toraso said according to Sinai, the counting will be done on a 24-hours rotation in order to complete the process.

During the meeting, the Governor General had advised the Electoral Commissioner to prepare a full report and also make recommendation based on the advice he receives so he can able make a decision.

However, Toraso said Sir Bob’s position is clear, and that is for every decision made to be consistent with the Constitution.

Sinai said as of last Friday, 22 two ballot boxes are yet to be polled, 30 others yet to be extracted from polling sites, 51 boxes have been destroyed out of the total 402 boxes distributed throughout Enga Province.

He said only 302 boxes have been extracted and ready for counting but according to report on the ground the Lagaip and parts of Paiela are yet to poll.

He said of boxes destroyed in the mayhem in the province, 36 were from Lagaip, 10 from Kandep and five from Kompiam-Ambum while 11 boxes each from Paela/Porgera and Lagaip were not polled.

Toraso Sir Bob has also sought legal advice from the State Solicitor and other top government lawyers on the possible action he might take in relations to areas the people have not voted but marred by violence and hijacking and rigging of ballot boxes, denying the people to exercise their democratic rights to choose their leaders.

He said Sir Bob was concerned that the National General Election was not conducted well as reported in the media and that security was a problem as they were spread thinly with no effect, resulting in many of the ballot boxes being hijacked and destroyed by candidates and their supporters.

Toraso said Sir Bob was also concerned about the date for the Return of Writs, but Sinai has assured him that he would speech up the counting and have about 100 electorates declared this Friday.

“We already have more than 10 declared already, so we will be okay,” Sinai said.

By this week, towards the end date we should be fine, to speed up the counting, that’s why we are trying to organise that.

“I am confident and adamant that we should have 100 before 29 July as it’s always a good area to present a good impression in the allowed period.

The Commission is working around the clock to get results and its falling in between the plans to get these done.

By Sunday more than 15 of 118 (5.93 percent) seats had been declared, 20 of 118 (1.69 percent) elections are distributing preferences, 27 of 118 (65.25 percent) elections are counting first preference results and 29 of 118 (24.58 percent) elections are yet to start counting of first preference results.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS