Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Transparency and accountability have deteriorated to an all-time low within PNG's electoral system, says Sam Basil.

Statement by
Pangu Pati Parliamentary Leader
Hon. Samuel H Basil, MP

Pangu Pati’s Parliamentary Leader and sitting Wau/Bulolo MP Hon. Samuel H Basil has expressed grave concerns over daily claims of impropriety within election procedures and practices.

Since the start of polling in the 2017 National Elections many allegations of suspicious conduct have emerged nationwide.

A student has been reported killed in Eastern Highlands after a candidate disrupted polling. Many names of voters are absent or appeared twice on the common roll.

The much talked about 2017 Common Roll itself is a shambles. Reports have emerged of voters travelling distances between electorates to vote twice or more in neighbouring LLG’s.

The Deputy Opposition Leader expressed frustration over the lack of governance and transparency in the administrative handling of the elections.

Mr Basil said “the polling period began with allegations of fraud by authorised officials such as electoral officials and police.

It is obvious that the O’Neill regime has spent billions of kina to roll out its weak policy and distorted development priorities without protecting Papua New Guineans against the risks of corruption to their constitutional rights.

Electoral fraud will further erode the worlds’ confidence in PNG as a future investment destination particularly after the O’Neill governments shocking record of economic mismanagement in the last 5 years.

In the long term our electoral system will require restructuring to ensure that we tighten our grip on electoral fraud, as it is happening.

We cannot wait for the Court of Disputed Returns to apprehend the violence, chaos and fraud that are wreaking havoc on our people right now.

The system is fraught with inefficiencies and we must review it.

I am concerned that as we progress in the coming fortnight to the next phase of the elections that the reports of ballot fixing and tampering will increase to a level that cannot be monitored, controlled or apprehended.

Mr Basil said “We cannot tell the world that we have sponsored a satisfactory standard of parliamentary elections, because quite simply we have not. There is no trust left in the system.

Those assigned to oversee the process of elections seem to be hypnotised by the large amounts of money in circulation everywhere in PNG right now.

Money and politics will kill democracy in our country if we continue this way.”

Sadly, the process of electing leaders in this country has become so monetized that not only will we erode our form of parliamentary democracy but we will also sacrifice the integrity of our constitutional rights to choose effective legislators with the vital skills to rescue our country from further social and economic decline.

Transparency and accountability have deteriorated to an all-time low within PNGs electoral system.

Even at this interim stage of the elections we cannot lawfully say that we gave the best chance to our people to choose their leaders.

Supporters and candidates have bent rules to accommodate their anxiety to occupy a seat in our parliament.

If there is any truth in these nationwide claims then someone must be answerable.

Since the beginning of the last term of parliament, sizeable disbursements of public funds and international advisory and technical support have gone to the PNG Electoral Commission in the name of the 2017 National Elections.

Now amidst polling throughout the country we can see the clear evidence of maladministration and mismanagement of these funds.

The O’Neill/Dion Government who saw it fit to install a new Electoral Commissioner only one and a half years ahead of a National Parliamentary election has brought the constitutional office of the Electoral Commission into disrepute.

It is not good enough to accept that no polling officials were present at polling venues.

It is poor practice to allow and tolerate polling delays, no-shows and unlawful and unauthorized behaviour during the elections.

We are only at the start of the elections.

Many of us have invested vast resources and precious time to achieve a desired outcome in a short space of time and this will be taken away from us due to administrative incompetence.

Institutional and high level political greed must not force our country to resort to tactics that have the capacity to lay foundations for long-term civil unrest and protracted ethnic tension.

Mr Basil said ‘I am a candidate with a particular interest in a free and fair outcome.’

The Pangu Pati leader says ‘the full story in every suspicious event so far are not yet clear but many worrying signs continue to emerge.

Electoral officials and police are regularly reported to be intoxicated, unavailable or complaining about their allowances usually ahead of the discovery of the ballot papers and ballot boxes in an unauthorized properties and vehicles everywhere.

This is a pattern we must not tolerate, said Mr Basil.

Photo Caption: Samuel H Basil casting his vote - Ward 13 Segayo Village/Buang LLG Bulolo District today 28/06/17.

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