‘Make election less disruptive’, pleads commissioner ahead of PNG ballot

PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato ... "let’s have a good and peaceful 2017 national election". Image: Post-Courier

By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby

More than 800 election monitors will be deployed nationwide to observe and make independent reports on Papua New Guinea’s national election starting this Saturday.

Electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato says international and local monitors will report back to their respective organisations, heads of governments and the government itself on the credibility of the PNG election process.

“We have invited international election monitors or observers to visit during the months of June and July to see whether we have planned well for the election and also see if we followed the rule of law and the election laws on conducting the 2017 national election,” Gamato said in a statement.

“These election monitors or observers are invited from the Commonwealth Secretariat, European Union, governments of Australia and New Zealand, resident heads and staff of foreign missions from Australia, Great Britain, United States of America, France, Japan, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat, Australian National University and other election management bodies from other parts of the world,” he said.

“Our very own civil society watchdog, Transparency International (PNG) Inc., again will deploy 400 election monitors, the largest number of monitors nationwide,” Gamato said.

He also appealed for calm in the remaining seven days of campaigning and the next month of polling and counting.

“Fellow Papua New Guineans, emotional reactions to your political opponents by supporters must not be encouraged. But as a responsible leader, you must always urge restraint and discourage such bad acts or violence,” he said.

Less disruptive, violent
“As your Electoral Commissioner, I strongly urge each and every one of you, the leaders of political parties, tribes and clans to make this election far less disruptive or violent than previous national elections,” Gamato said.

“Let’s have a good and peaceful 2017 national election to demonstrate to our regional neighbours and the international community that Papua New Guinea is truly democratic and has a vibrant democracy.”

More than 500 of these election observers have now arrived in Port Moresby, ready to kick-start election scrutiny.

They will be meeting with all the party executives tomorrow.

Sensitive election materials have also been moved from the capital to provincial centres nationwide over the last seven days by the Australian defence force ahead of polling.

The materials include ballot papers, candidate posters, polling schedules and electoral rolls, Gamato said.

“So far the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission is all good to go and set for the 2017 national election.”

The Papua New Guinea 2017 general election is June 24 until July 8.

Gorethy Kenneth is a senior reporter with the PNG Post-Courier.

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