28 Jun 2002

Voting in PNG election marred by irregularites and poor organisation

10:46 am on 28 June 2002

A second week of voting in Papua New Guinea is about to end amid concern that the process has been marred by deaths, violence, stolen ballot boxes, multiple voting and incomplete electoral rolls.

It's claimed that inept organisation has led to thousands of voters being denied a vote through incomplete electoral rolls, transport for the electon has been bungled and cheating is common in the polling booths.

The number of declared seats has yet to reach double figures with final results from only seven of 109 electorates.

Our correspndent in Port Moresby, Peter Niesi, says the electoral commissioner, Reuben Kaiulo, has been unavailable to explain the problems incurred since polling began 13 days ago.

"For almost a week now, since polling began, we've had no public comments from Mr Kaiulo or from his media relations unit. Various media, including the Post Courier, have e-mailed questions, made phone calls, have even attempted doorstops."

Peter Niesi

Meanwhile, complaints of irregularities in the poll continue to be reported.

The deputy leader of the People's Labour Party and candidate, Matthew Minape, says there was foul play in the whole polling process in Lae city.

Mr Minape says the involvement of the Lae District Administration staff and management of the Local Level Government in the polling and counting of votes, constituted a conflict of interest.

In the Eastern Highlands, the election manager, Abraham Wari, and two of his staff are reported to have been threatened in the lead-up to counting.

Mr Wari has decided to count votes from the safety of his home and under the protection of a group of youths.

The speaker of parliament, Bernard Narakobi, himself one of thirty six candidates contesting the Wewak Open seat, has described the current election as the worst the country has ever seen.