Thursday, 29 June 2017

Isaac Lupari's self-created election steering committee is unlawful and unprecedented


Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari issued a press statement today (29/6/17) in an attempt to clarify his role as Chair of the Steering Committee on the National Elections.

Lupari was responding to what he describes as comments and innuendos by certain candidates and political figures on the roll of the Committee Chair.

"I want to make this emphatically clear to the public.. the Steering Committee on National Elections was not created overnight. It was set up and utilized in the past to provided advice to the Electoral Commission on the smooth running of the elections" he said.

Lupari claims the committee liaises with the Electoral Commission and brings to attention of the Government issues they face so these can be dealt with in expedited manner.

"As Chief Secretary, I chair the steering committee and since day one we have been working closely with Commission to ensure everything required for a smooth election was in place."

"The role of and work of my Committee is very open, public and transparent. We do not operate behind the scenes as suggested by some candidates" Lupari said.

So is Lupari telling the truth?

Short answer is No.

While he claims the committee wasn't created over night and was set up and utilized by past Governments this is a blatant lie.

The only election steering committees established in the past have been at the Provincial level - Provincial Election Steering Committee who provide advice to Provincial Election Managers or Returning Officers on the ground.

Section 19 of Organic Law provides for the establishment of committee by Returning Officer to seek assistance to plan for the preparation or updating of Rolls and the conduct of elections provided that the functions performed, or the powers exercised, by a Returning Officer under or in accordance with this Law remain the functions and powers of the Electoral Commission.

So is seems Lupari so called Steering Committee has been set up over night after all. Nor has it never been established by previous governments nor is it sanctioned by law.

It is essentially an illegal committee compromising the independence of the Electoral Commission which is required to operate independently.

The only lawful committee to provide advice to the Electoral Commission is an Election Advisory Committee.

This committee is established by law under Section 96C of Organic Law on Elections.

The function of the committee is to provide recommendations and advice to the Electoral Commission on matters of law or any other matter referred to by Electoral Commission.

The committee is made up of three members, Chief Ombudsman, Nominee of Transparency International PNG and a retired judge or lawyer - all independent to the Government of the day.

So Lupari somehow set up his own Committee chaired by himself to advise and monitor the Electoral Commission without any lawful authority or function to do so.

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