1 May 2015

Call for more voter education in Bougainville

2:03 pm on 1 May 2015

A former Bougainville MP says there needs to be a broader approach to voter education ahead of the elections starting in ten days time.

The autonomous Papua New Guinea region holds its elections for a two week period from May 11th.

The former Central Bougainville women's representative, Therese Jaintong, says the education she has seen so far involves the specific voting process, in terms of how the proportional system works, and so on.

But she says, given the role of the next parliament in ushering in the referendum on possible independence, voter education should be covering more bases.

"The voter education is a must because people must vote with the proper concerns - not being influenced by other people. Yeah voting [campaigning] is about influencing the voters to vote for whoever the candidate is but the people must also think when they are voting [of] the quality, the person who will drive the change to the referendum for Bougainville."

UNDP training for officials

The United Nations Development Programme is now training election officials and journalists ahead of the elections.

The work is part of the UNDP's effort to enhance the understanding of the election process.

The UNDP will also be supporting the co-ordination of observers, helping women candidates prepare, and will facilitate a post-elections assessment exercise.

The UNDP hopes to reach as many as 720 election scrutineers, giving them an overview of the process and their role, so they can cope with complaints during the poll and counting.

The agency will also help prepare the 19 returning officers, with a focus on the Bougainville Electoral Commission process for handling complaints during the polling and counting periods.

And it will train local journalists to ensure they have the skills to cover election process fairly.