PNG’s political system ‘being hijacked’ by leaders, warns analyst over election

A PNG polling booth during a general election
A PNG polling booth during a general election ... security services have low credibility. Image: Post-Courier

By Marjorie Finkeo in Port Moresby

Only two of Papua New Guinea’s general elections — in 1992 and 1997 — have had some semblance of credibility since the country’s independence in 1975, says a political analyst.

Speaking at a seminar in Port Moresby, Dr Joe Ketan, general manager of Divine University’s business and research arm Diwai Pacific Ltd, gave an overview of the country’s electoral governance, saying it was the worst when it comes to forming a new government.

“The country’s election processes are intact. However, the system is being hijacked,” he said.

“The state-owned enterprises are struggling, many essential services have collapsed, and the security agencies of Royal PNG Constabulary, PNG Defence Force, PNG Correctional Service and National Intelligence Organisation have all lost integrity with having lack of credibility in upcoming elections in June.

Dr Ketan, formerly h“We have a terrible input process in the country [over] how we bring in our leaders into Parliament and the output is really bad.

“The security agencies lack discipline, have a low morality, and have issues with funding. While we look into the future, the government will repeat history.

Extra steps needed
“We need to take extra steps to ensure that the 2022 election is credible because with the last six terms of elections only two since independence have had some resemblance of credibility — in 1992 and 1997,” he said.

“In 2007 and 2012 it was equally bad with political instability between both former prime ministers Peter O’Neill and Sir Michael Somare.”

Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker raised concerns about the common roll having not been updated from several years ago.

Barker said there was no proper data of eligible voters and current population and the government had done nothing about the issue.

Funding short by K362m
Meanwhile, Miriam Zarriga reports that with just nine days to go before the issue of 118 election writs on April 28, the government has yet to release K362 million (NZ$151 million) of the Electoral Commission’s K462 million (NZ$193 million) funding for the election costs.

Documents obtained by the Post-Courier show that the Department of Treasury has released a total of about K287.6 million ($120 million) to only seven agencies.

These payments are as follows;

– Electoral Commission: K100 million paid; K362 million outstanding;
– Police: K111 million paid; K43 million outstanding;
– PNG Defence Force: K50 million paid; K22.8 million outstanding;
– Correctional Service: K11.6 million paid; K42.4 million outstanding;
Other departments;
– National Broadcasting Corporation: K10 million;
– Department of Justice and Attorney General: K2.5 million; and,
– Ombudsman Commission: K2.5 million.

The National Intelligence Organisation (NIO), Registry of Political Parties, Office of Security Co-ordination and Assessment (OSCA) have yet to receive their funding.

Marjorie Finkeo is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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