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NA takes Electoral Commission to task

THE National Alliance Party has grave concerns the 2017 national election will not be conducted in a manner that will accurately reflect voter intentions, NA Election Campaign Director Arthur Somare said on Thursday.

He said: “Initial concerns had arisen among the electorate when the Electoral Commission decided to print ballot papers in Indonesia, rather than in PNG, lessening the level of scrutiny.

“This concern was exacerbated when it was further discovered that ten million ballot papers had been printed, far in excess of what is normally needed.”

Mr Somare said the recent incident in Manus, where members of the public demanded that ballot boxes be opened and checked for their contents, was proof of the high level of anxiety among PNG citizens.

He said previous Electoral Commissioners always provided weekly briefings to political parties in the lead up to the election and kept parties abreast of relevant developments.

Mr Somare said: “My other concern is over a lack of transparency by Mr Gamato, who has ignored requests by political parties for such briefings.

“I would like to remind Mr Gamato about his mandate and role by referring to what the Electoral Commission website says: ‘As an independent Constitutional office, it (the Electoral Commission) is not subject to direction or control by any person or authority’.

“Instead, Mr Gamato has chosen to take instructions from the Chief Secretary, Mr Isaac Lupari, who was Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s former Chief of Staff.

“As a major political party contesting this election, NA’s big fear, partly from experience, is the switching of entire ballot boxes, or blocks of votes, after votes have been cast.

“As a former politician having served three terms in Parliament, I am convinced this took place during the 2012 national election. This could be repeated now in a much more extensive fashion, given the existence of many millions of extra ballot papers.

Destroy extra ballot papers before June 24

“To allay fears that swapping of entire ballot boxes, or large chunks of votes, will not occur in the 2017 national election, Mr Gamato should be able to immediately provide a precise summary of ballot papers that have been allocated and despatched.

“This would provide an estimate of additional ballot papers that will not be needed when voting commences on June 24.

“All the ballot papers that are excess and serve no purpose, other than for possible cheating, should be destroyed in a transparent manner prior to the start of voting. That will give PNG citizen greater confidence in the election outcome.”

“This is a simple solution for the Electoral Commissioner if he wants to retain any semblance of credibility. It is very important for the integrity of public institutions to be maintained so the public will have confidence in them.” source: Sunday Chronicle/ PNG Today
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