By ZACHERY PER
THERE will be a by-election for the vacant Kundiawa-Gembogl seat in Chimbu soon, The National reports.
The Electoral Commission will announce a tentative by-election schedule as soon as Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio’s consent is obtained.
Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen yesterday broke his silence over the Kundiawa Open seat left vacant following the death of late member of parliament Joe Mek Teine in April.
“Section 106 of the Constitution states that when an office of an elected member of parliament becomes vacant, an election shall be held to fill the vacancy,” Trawen said.
“For the vacant Kundiawa seat, I have to give enough time for the family and the people of Kundiawa to meet their customary obligations in mourning the death of the late member before I announce dates for a by-election as the mourning period has now lapsed,” he said.
Trawen was responding to media reports that certain community leaders in the electorate have urged acting Prime Minister Sam Abal not to conduct a by-election out of respect to the late member of parliament.
“This manner of requests and assurance is inappropriate and unconstitutional because any person deciding against the conduct of elections is, in fact, breaching the requirements of the Constitution,” Trawen said.
“The seat does not belong to factional groups of people within the electorate; it belongs to the people of Kundiawa and there is no power given to any person to stop the conduct of elections as required under section 106 of the Constitution,” Trawen said.
He said for an election to take place, the vacancy must take place at a time outside of the 12-month period before the fifth anniversary from the time the writs were returned for the last elections.
Trawen pointed out that the writs for the last elections in 2007 were returned on July 27, 2007, but the Kundiawa Open seat became vacant in April 2011.
“We are not yet into the 12-month period, the seat has become vacant before the 12-month period and, therefore, a by-election must be conducted.”