Friday, April 20, 2012

Poll date still in limbo

Source: Post Courier, April 19,2012
Trawen ready to go, DPM still for defferral
PARLIAMENT and the Electoral Commission are still at loggerheads over the timing of elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah and part of his Cabinet Ministers, including all Highlands MPs still want the elections to be differed for six months or three months – the least because of “a failed Electoral Roll” they predict will cause chaos in the Highlands Region. They also said yesterday that the motion to defer election in Parliament has not been repealed and still stands. But Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen yesterday was adamant and will not back down from his May 18, 2012 election date.
He said he has made his stand and he will advise the Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio to issue the Writs on May 18, 2012. Trawen said he is 93 per cent complete and ready with his Electoral Roll and adamant elections will be held in June and a new Government declared then.
His counterparts, the Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga and PNGDF Commander Francis Agwi maintained they were ready with their security plans, pledging their support for Mr Trawen.
“In summary, for the nation as a whole, data for a total of 5745 wards has been received and processed out of the 6164 wards in PNG.
The Commission is continuing to work 24 hours a day to complete these data entry and printing tasks for the remaining 419 wards,” Mr Trawen proudly read out.
“In percentage terms, this represents 93 per cent of all Preliminary Rolls for their entire country completed – just seven percent of the Wards remain and the Electoral Commission wishes to again assure the public that the Roll Improvement Program will be completed in time for the General election in June.”
But Mr Namah who led his entourage, barked and continuously asked Mr Trawen to declare that he was not ready with the Elections, especially given that the failure in the completion of the Electoral Roll in the Highlands not in order.
Mr Trawen gave a run down and update on where the Electoral Roll was (see story above) and MPs, Ministers and Foreign Dignitaries were also privileged to listen to the PNGEC legal advisor defend his head Trawen – and why the elections should not be differed and the Constitutionality surrounding it.
Mr Namah spoke specifically about the motion passed by Parliament asking for a clearer explanation of Section 105 -1 (c) and Section 105 (2) of the Constitution, which talks about the elections.
“On the absence of the Constitution and in relation to the deferral of elections, (especially with the motion still intact), what is the power of the motion?” Mr Namah continuously questioned Trawen. PNGEC legal team still maintained that the Electoral Commissioner still had the precedence over Parliament especially in calling the elections and changing of the dates.
But most of the MPs and Ministers that attended the briefing yesterday claimed the PNGEC Electoral Roll was not at all ready and that Parliament’s motion to defer the election for six months should be upheld.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was noticeably not in Parliament and at the briefing yesterday. Questions were also raised why he was not at the briefing but advise sought claimed he had other commitments to attend to.

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