Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Somare: Stick to election schedule


GOVERNMENT’S proposal to postpone the election found ready opponents yesterday who say there are no valid reasons to support such a move, The National reports.
 Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah floated the idea on the weekend, saying updating the electoral roll was behind schedule and the introduction of a bio-metric-based voting system would need six months to implement.
But deposed prime minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, the Trade Union Congress and non-governmental agency Transparency International felt that the explanation was flimsy at best.
Sir Michael said the news should not come as a surprise to people of Papua New Guinea.
“The move is consistent with the string of other actions by the O’Neill-Namah regime since taking office illegally on Aug 2 last year.
 “Knowing that the election cannot be deferred they will have to suspend the Constitution.”
He said the people of Papua New Guinea must stop listening to their reasons for continually violating the standing orders of parliament; the Personnel Management Act and the Constitution.
 “We cannot allow the elections to be deferred or the Constitution to be suspended.
 “I call on O’Neill and Namah to go to the election and prove your legitimacy.
“You cannot defer the elections. In the interest of the people of Papua New Guinea the elections must go ahead,” Sir Michael said.
TUC general secretary John Paska said the congress strongly opposed the government’s intention to postpone the 2012 general election.
 “It is very disturbing to hear of reports of the O’Neill government faction’s intention to postpone the election.
“There just isn’t any credible justification to do so,” Paska said.
Paska, from Kavieng, New Ireland province, said there could be justifiable reasons to postpone election in the Southern Highlands province out of fear of violence but the rest of the country remained peaceful and keen to exercise their right to choose a legitimate government.
“These invaluable rights cannot be held to ransom by the un-preparedness of one or two provinces.”
The congress had consulted national and provincial electoral officers as well as the police who had said they were prepared to conduct the election.
 “So where is this preposterous idea coming from?”
Paska said serious constitutional questions still remained unresolved over the legitimacy of the government.
“This latest gimmick cuts deeply into the constitutional rights of the people of PNG, giving rise to the perception that the O’Neill faction is predisposed to reshape and bend the Constitution any which way they choose to suit their ends.
“It cannot and must not be tolerated under any circumstances.
“We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and call on the Opposition and MPs not to support it,” Paska said.
Transparency International PNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said: “We have the experience of eight elections and the efforts of a large number of good people behind the preparations for the coming election.
“We view with the greatest concern suggestions that we should delay the elections scheduled to commence on June 23.
“The people of Papua New Guinea know that it is their right to vote for their representatives now.
“They know that the thought of hanging onto public office for a little longer is very attractive to those about to face the judgement of their electorates.
“It is too easy to say we are not prepared for the election and use this as an excuse to stay in power longer.
 “It appears to us that we are, once again, witnessing MPs looking for a way to exempt themselves from facing the consequences of their actions.
“TI PNG is reliably informed that the electoral rolls are as ready as they have ever been and possibly more so.
“It is extremely disappointing to hear that MPs are deliberately creating fear with the impression that we are less prepared than we have been in the past.

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