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PNG Opposition leader renews call for inquest into election

Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch said yesterday the often-repeated view of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that the 2017 general election was one of the “most peaceful” is a myth that has been debunked.

Pruaitch said the authoritative report by a 2017 PNG national election observer team, led by the Australian National University, documented 204 deaths due to election-related violence, including 84 that occurred between the issue of writs and start of polling.

In a statement, he supported the call for a commission of inquiry (CoI) into the 2017 general election by former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta.

“O’Neill has a convenient lapse in memory in rejecting this call for an open inquiry,” he said.

“The prime minister himself told Parliament, at its opening session after the 2017 general election, that serious election issues needed to be addressed.

“It is worth reminding citizens that this is another failed promise by the O’Neill government.

“Prime Minister O’Neill told Parliament on August 2, 2017, and I quote:

‘This government commits to a full review of the electoral processes that will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to share their views’.”

Pruaitch said this was not the only election-related promise made by O’Neill that has been broken.

Last year,O’Neill promised a full inquiry into allegations of illegal conduct in Southern Highlands during the elections, after which several properties in Mendi, allegedly connected to the prime minister, were destroyed by the public.

“While the prime minister continues to claim the 2017 election was one of the ‘most peaceful’, nearly all PNG academics and experts involved in the ANU observer teams were in agreement that the 2017 national election was the most violent they had witnessed (a total of 258 observers were involved.),” Pruaitch said.

“The 130-page ANU report placed a spotlight on the role of the security forces and police, with some 60 per cent of the observer teams witnessing police brutality, including the use of excessive force.

“This was reported by all the 13 observer teams in the Highlands.

“In Hela, Eastern Highlands and NCD, election observers witnessed security personnel driving vehicles at speed into crowds to disperse those who had gathered.

“In several locations, security personnel fired warning shots or directly into crowds.

“The ANU report said civilian deaths had occurred in Southern Highlands, Hela, Enga and Gulf provinces.”

Pruaitch said it was too much to expect that O’Neill would honour his promise for a full inquiry into the 2017 elections because the findings would confirm that these law breakers were acting on behalf of the Peoples National Congress.


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