ELECTORAL Commissioner Andrew Trawen has reassured the nation that the general election will be held as scheduled in June, The National reports.
He will advise Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio to issue the writs of election on April 27 and for polling to start on June 23.
He spoke out yesterday after Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah suggested a re-scheduling of the election because of various factors, most prominent of which is the delay in the updating of electoral rolls. The matter was discussed at length last Friday in parliament.
Trawen clarified that any change to the election schedule would come from the electoral commission.
He brushed aside statements in the media that the electoral rolls were not ready and that the government planned to defer the election by six months.
He said the electoral commissioner, police and the Defence Force would advise government if there was going to be any deferment.
“As the electoral commissioner, I now assure the people of PNG that the election will proceed as schedule as required under section 105(a) of the Constitution,’’ he said.
“To delay or defer the election is unconstitutional as section 105(1)(a) of the Constitution and the Organic Law on national and local level government elections will then have to be amended.”
The Constitution [section 105(1)(a)] stated that “a general election to parliament shall be held within a period of three months before the fifth anniversary of the day fixed for the return of the writ for the previous general election”.
The commission would ensure this constitution requirement is met, Trawen said.
He admitted that there were a few hiccups in the electoral roll update but about 75% of the process had been completed.
Completed electoral rolls had been dispatched to the respective electorates for public display and objections.
He reiterated that all rolls would be ready before the issue of writs on April 27.
The planning, preparation and conduct of the election is the sole constitutional duty of the electoral commission every five years.
Trawen was confident of completing the rolls on time and deliver another successful election in June.
“We are doing our best to get the electoral roll completed, especially for the highlands and will deliver a credible roll for PNG to go to the election.
“I think it is important for everyone to understand what the electoral commission is doing with the electoral roll because there is a lot of misinformation out there at present,” he said.
There are 6,789 wards in PNG and his office had received 4,983 of the ward list.
Although data for the highlands was slow, it was expected to progressively come in for processing over the next two weeks, Trawen said.
He said the preliminary roll for the seven highlands provinces and Manus would be displayed for objection in early April before the issue of writs