Monday, March 05, 2012

Australia urges PNG to go ahead with polls

THE best thing for Papua New Guinea is to press ahead and hold its general elections in June as scheduled, Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ian Kemish, believes, The National reports.
 “We are a good friend of PNG and we think what’s best for Papua New Guinea is what the prime minister himself (Peter O’Neill) has been saying, elections on time.”
The question of deferring the election was raised last week by Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah who expressed doubts that the electoral rolls would be completed in time for the election in June .
He also said the incumbent government would need another year to consolidate policy changes.
Kemish said in a press conference last Friday that Australia would supply another 88 computers on top of the 30 given earlier.
Election Commissioner Andrew Trawen had said in a report last week the electoral roll was only 60% complete, just under two months before the writs are issued and campaigning formally begins on April 27.
Trawen told the press conference there was “no room for deferment” of the election.
“We have to follow the Constitution,” Trawen said.
 “The term of five years will come to an end very shortly, so there’s no room for any deferment.”
Kemish said Australia had provided more than K26 million to improve PNG’s capacity to hold election that is free, fair and safe.
Australia will also provide three staff at the electoral commission to support operations, air transport and logistics, as well as a senior Australian Electoral Commission expert.
They will be arriving in two weeks to work alongside the commission.
Australia will also hire four PNG national IT staff to assist in the cleaning up of the roll.
Kemish said each of the recent elections in the country had been more successful than the previous one.
“We are helping the PNGEC to ensure 2012 is no different,” he said

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