IN the past three days there has been numerous reporting of fake news by a number of Pro-O'Neill Government social media sites.
One such social media site is PNG Breaking News making a number of misplaced reports in relation to Pangu Party. Signs that a news report is fake is when the report is headlined "Confirmed Reports or "Final Confirmation"
For instance the fake news page published on Thursday (11/05/17);
"CONFIRMED REPORT - Basil out of Pangu" It goes on to claim... "Basil, Dulciana and Kramer will not be allow to run under Pangu banner."
"Electoral Commission will not allow them to endorse candidates in breach of the party constitution. All will be forced to run as independents and no longer allowed to use Pangu branding."
In response I posted a report under the headline "Pangu Intact" providing a picture of the party executives meeting yesterday morning in Port Moresby.
PNG Breaking News page then posts "Final Confirmation - Pangu is Split, Basil Out.
It goes on to claim that after missing the 4:06pm deadline to make changes to the party line up the original endorsed candidates coming from General Secretary will be the only Pangu Candidates standing for elections.
It is clear the person writing these reports lacks the basic fundamentals of reporting - get your facts right.
So does Electoral Commissioner (EC) have the powers to determine who Pangu Party endorses or use Pangu branding?
The short answer is No.
The powers and jurisdiction of the EC is provided for by the Organic Law on National & Local-Level Government Elections.
Section 126 of Constitution provides that Elections to the Parliament shall be conducted, in accordance with an Organic Law, by an Electoral Commission.
So in accordance with the Constitution Parliament introduced Organic Law on Elections providing specific regulations on how elections are to be conducted including the powers of the Electoral Commission.
Section 85 of Organic Law on Elections provides for the mode of nomination of a candidate. It states that a candidate shall state the political party that it shall contest under and if none it shall state the word independent.
Section 94(4) of Organic Law on Elections states "A political party endorsement made on a nomination form shall not be withdrawn or otherwise amended after the hour of nomination"
So every candidate who has completed a nomination form is required to state whether he/she will seek endorsement from a registered political party and provide the name of the party and not even the EC may remove it.
As an administrative function the EC requires the General Secretary to confirm the party's endorsement by completing a Form 30. This explains why the EC stated he would only accept the list provided by the General Secretary.
So why would the Electoral Commission require the Form 30 to be lodged?
It is because the EC is responsible for printing candidate electoral posters used during polling. A candidate or political party may include a picture of party leader to be printed along side their endorsed candidate profile picture.
So if Electoral Commission has no powers over Political Parties then who does?
Registrar of Political Parties, whose office and powers are provided for under Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates.
Now the Registrar of Political Parties has publicly stated that matters relating to the endorsement of candidates by Political Parties shall be determined the party's own constitution and not his office. This is correct because the Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates is silent on the process which political parties endorse their candidates.
So what does the Pangu Party Constitution say about endorsing candidates to contest an Open or Regional Seat in the General National Elections?
Clause 33 of Party Constitution states that Sub-branch (District) or Branch (Provincial) shall submit their nominee to the Council (National Executives) who shall endorse all candidates nominated under this Clause and those candidates shall be the only candidates of the Party.
However clause 33.5 also provides that the National Executive shall also have the power to veto (reject) any nomination submitted by a District or Provincial Branch should they choose to.
So it is clear the final decision for endorsement of candidates under the party lies with the Party's National Executive.
So who makes up the Pangu Party National Executives?
There are currently eight members
1) Parliamentary Leader, Sam Basil
2) Deputy Parliamentary Leader, William Samb
3) Party President - Patrick Pundaou
4) Vice President - Judy Kanadi
5) Vice President - Andrew Ilam
6) Treasurer - Daniel Kapi
7) General Secretary - Morris Tovebae
8) Council Member Sinaka Rea.
All meetings of the Council are called and chaired by the Party President while the role of General Secretary is to carry out resolutions passed by the National Executive.
So it is now clear the Pangu Party Constitution provides that the endorsement of candidates lies with the National Executive and not any individual member General Secretary or Provincial Branch.
So what is all the fuss about suggesting a major split in Pangu Party?
Well the difference lies between General Secretary and the Party Leader. The National Executive met three times leading up to the issue of writs to consider and finalise the party's list of endorsed candidates.
Basil attended the first two meetings submitting his preferred candidates list which were endorsed by the Executives.
Due to official commitments in Wau-Bulolo he did not attend the last meeting. It was during that meeting the Executives considered a number of nominations submitted by the General Secretary. General Secretary failing to provide a copy of minutes to the Party Leader left him in the dark on four endorsements which he took issue with.
So there is no real split as exaggerated in the mainstream press or social media.
In summary the only lawfully endorsed candidates of the party are those who have been considered by the National Executives and voted on. If the Electoral Commission insists they will only accept a list from the General Secretary then he needs to ask him to provide evidence (meeting resolution) that those candidates have the formal endorsement of the National Executive in accordance with the Party's Constitution.
So what happens if General Secretary failed or refused to provide the correct list of endorsed candidates?
Well if the candidate has stated the political party he is endorsed to contest under it not the business of the Electoral Commissioner to reject it unless he has good reason to believe the claim made by the candidate is false.
EC will omit the Party Leader picture beside the endorsed candidates profile picture. However this does not mean he/she is not duly endorsed by the party it just means for the purpose of candidate poster it will be excluded due to the party's failure to advise the EC.
However I'm been advised the Party President will intervene to avoid this from happening.
So reports that Basil, Dulciana and myself will not be allow to run under Pangu banner are a complete fabricated. Any such decision only lies with the National Executives and with the majority of its members backing Basil the issue is beyond doubt.
Thus the only Confirmed Report or Final Confirmation is that PNG Breaking News page is deliberately reporting Fake News.
Food for thought - "Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools and accepted by idiots"