Bougainville ready for election
Bougainville's electoral chief says his staff are ready for an election process set to begin on Friday.
Bougainvilleans are due to go to the polls from May 11th through to May 25th to elect the new parliament.
The electoral commissioner in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province, George Manu, says writs will be issued this Friday with nominations to start on Monday and finish three days later.
Mr Manu told Don Wiseman he had faced challenges but his team is now ready for the polling process.
GEORGE MANU: One of the major challenges I had in the beginning was funding but that has all been fixed now. I am very grateful to the ABG. It has given me all the money we requested for the running of the elections. We are now finalising the roll. The roll was sent back to the constituencies for the public scrutiny that has now been completed. We will be coming up with a roll, a final roll, as soon as writs are issued. The enrolment for the BOB, that is Bougainvilleans Outside of Bougainville, is ongoing at the moment. We are happy with the way it is going. We have given them a deadline of 4 o'clock on Friday, that's when nominations for the BOB will stop. As you know once the writs are issued no more enrolments are accepted. We are ready, we are ready to conduct these elections and we will deliver. I have deployed - Australian Electoral Commission and the New Zealand Electoral Commission had provided external advisors for us to assist with the preparations of the election. They are now being deployed to the various regions.
DON WISEMAN: The BOB, Bougainvilleans Outside of Bougainville, they don't have to return to Bougainville to vote?
GM: No, we will be deploying five polling teams to five locations. Unfortunately, although we would have liked to have deployed teams throughout the [PNG] provinces, funding has restricted us to five locations only. So they will vote when the teams get out there. They will also have five days of polling in those locations. The locations are in Rabaul, Lae, Madang, Goroka and Port Moresby.
DW: As we have talked about before this is a critical election in terms that the next Government will be the one that set a date for a vote on possible independence. So a critical election for Bougainvilleans - what sort of awareness work do you do. Is that something the Electoral Commission involves itself in?
GM: Yes our awareness programme will commence on the 13th of April. Mostly we will focus on voter education. We have tried as much as possible to ensure that all eligible Bougainvillean voters do cast their votes. Returning officers from each respective constituency will be selecting teams which will be trained and then given the materials to go out and conduct the awareness on the voter education. Also we will be using the radio, Radio Bougainville and we also have one mobile radio station. We will move this radio station to various locations to broadcast the information that we need to disseminate to the people in those constituencies.
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