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PNG National Election not successful, says Kwa

The 2017 National Election was unsuccessful and somebody has to be held accountable says  Papua New Guinea Secretary of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission Dr Eric Kwa.

Dr Kwa’s comments comes after the election was marred with reports of delays and disruptions in polling and counting due to non-payment of volunteer workers allowances; electoral roll discrepancies, allegations of double voting, vote buying and intimidation; double declarations in a hotel or places other than the counting venue; alleged kidnapping of MPs; election-related death and destruction to properties in some parts of the country; cases of strangers in the parliament who claimed to be legitimate MPs elect; the extension on the date of the return of writs and the election of the Parliament Speaker and the Prime Minister by 106 elected MPs out of 111 on Wednesday as five electorates including three provincial seats were still in counting then.

“In my observation the electoral laws are ok, it’s the implementation that the implementers that have been causing us all these headaches, so it really is an operational issue and not a legal issue. The law is not wrong and complicated. It’s the same law that was applied in 2002, 2007, 2012 National Elections and how is it that this time around we have major problems so when you look at it it’s the administrators – people who are administering the law and not the law,” he said, adding there’s no need to review the law on election.

“The fact that we completed 106 seats doesn’t mean it’s successful. A successful election is not measured by the number of the politicians coming in; success is based on the overall performance. Just because you have 106 on the floor of parliament and you now have the election of the PM and the speaker doesn’t mean it’s a success.

What happened to the people who died, the building burnt… That shows something is wrong,” Dr Kwa said adding its unfair on the people of the five electorates including Simbu , Eastern Highlands , and Southern Highlands regional who didn’t have a voice on the floor of parliament when it resumed on Wednesday .

“According to organic law on national election you have got 14 more days to extend so why did you extend only for the four days ?He should have extended for full 14 days from the 24th of July to 14 th of August .According to section 177 that he is quoting, he’s got addition 14 days to extend but he chose 4 days and he is saying “I have to keep the date within the anniversary of the first parliament ” that’s fine but the point of the matter is now you are going violate the rights of the people to vote for the PM and speaker ,”Dr.Kwa said .

He added that the Electoral Commissioner Patlias Gamato could have otherwise failed those electorates that didn’t meet the deadline to avoid the resulting constitutional issues.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has received overwhelming congratulatory messages from counterparts in the Pacific, Australia and APEC economies.

Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Australia’s Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on different occasions sent their congratulatory messages to O’Neill both pledging their support for PNG.

Small island nation leaders have also congratulated  O’Neill on his re-election, including several members of the Pacific Islands Forum who will accord PM O’Neill the respect when he attends the 48th PIF Meeting in Apia two weeks time.

Several APEC economy leaders have also sent their congratulatory messages personally to O’Neill since his re-election.

O’Neill said he’s had many of his counterparts congratulate him personally from their countries but it was nothing to make a big issue about as these were relations both countries had maintained for years.

A statement from the Solomon Island Opposition Leader Jeremaiah Manele reached the paper. Manele like other leaders have congratulated the re-election of Peter O’Neill as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

In a letter to the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Manele extended his greetings on behalf of the Solomon Islands Parliamentary Opposition Group to Prime Minister O’Neill and the People’s National Congress party and its coalition partners.

“Your re-election victory is a true indication of the confidence and trust that the people of PNG have in your Party and its coalition partners. Mr Prime Minister, your victory also indicates PNG’s vibrant democratic process which demonstrates that PNG has become a mature democracy,” Manele stated in his letter.

The Opposition Leader said he hopes Prime Minister O’Neill will continue to uphold the strong Melanesian ties with Solomon Islands and PNG share, which is not only embedded on bilateral cooperation but also on people to people relations and on our common traditions and culture as Melanesian societies.

“AS you assume office, I wish to assure you of my personal commitment as well as that of the Solomon Islands Parliamentary Opposition Group, to continue to work closely without you and your administration to further strengthen the strong bilateral relations between our two countries in future,” Manele said in his letter.

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