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Kua calls for declarations for election winners to be made in the electorates

Statement by Kerenge Kua 

“The recent announcement by the Electoral Commissioner to make all declarations of winning  candidates in Waigani is wrong in law. He has no power to do that.  “The Organic Law as National Elections (Sec.168(1) ) specifically say that the Returning Officer for each Electorate is responsible for the counting. He is responsible for ascertaining what

preferential votes are given to each candidate which determines the winner who is regarded as
“elected”. This means that firstly, the Returning Officer is the responsible officer for the purposes of both
counting and identifying the “elected” member, and secondly, the pronouncement of the end result
must be as soon as the result is ascertained by the Returning Officer. Thirdly, the pronouncement
of the “elected” member must be within the locality where the counting is done so that there is no delay.
The Organic Law does not use the word “declaration” and also prescribes no other procedure for the pronouncement of the “elected” member other than what is said above.

It is wrong in law for the Electoral Commissioner to assume that he has (1) the power to declare a
winner, (2) delay the declaration, and (3) take the results away from the locality to “declare” (as
he had announced).
I call on the Electoral Commissioner to immediately and publicly withdraw his announcement to
bring all results into Waigani so that he can “declare” that, is wrong in law.
Announcements of the elected members have to be done in the Provinces by the Provincial
Returning Officers.
In an environment where the integrity and independence of the Electoral Commissioner’s Office
in Waigani is very much in doubt, we do not encourage any additional un-prescribed procedures
which will simply create more opportunities for fraud, rumours and stress. We believe the
Provincial Returning Officers will do a better job as they are under the immediate scrutiny of the
candidates. The Electoral Commissioner and his staff in Waigani are not.
In addition to all of that it is the Returning Officer’s delegated function to count and “ascertain”
the “elected” member and the Electoral Commissioner cannot withdraw that delegated power
whole sale.
The Electoral Commissioner may have occasion to withdraw the delegated power from a
Returning Officer in a given Electorate on case by case basis but only after an “exceptional
circumstance” has been made out. There is no power in the Electoral Commissioner to withdraw
these powers from all the Returning Officer’s rights throughout PNG, when no 22 separate
(provincial) cases of “exceptional circumstances”, have been made out national wide.
“The power to pronounce an elected member is delegated by the Organic Law to the Returning
Officers of each electorate and not an administratively delegated function. We strongly object to
the Electoral Commissioner’s proposal to make declarations in Waigani – it’s all illegal!
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