PNG by-elections deemed satisfactory
Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Sir Andrew Trawen says two by-elections held in the past month were conducted relatively well.
Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Sir Andrew Trawen says he's satisfied with how two recent by-elections were conducted.
By-elections for the Goilala open seat and the West Sepik regional seat were held over the past month.
While Goilala's new MP was announced last week, Sir Andrew expects that the new West Sepik Governor should be announced before the end of the week.
He spoke to Johnny Blades who asked how the by-elections went.
ANDREW TRAWEN: So far so good. We managed to get all the teams there a bit late, just three or fuor days before the polling period, and we managed to get them out during the extended period. You may be aware that the Governor-General extended the polling by a week to allow the teams that went in late to conduct polling in those areas. They came out well, although there were extensions, but overall I'm very satisfied with the (West Sepik) election and the outcome of the polling.
JOHNNY BLADES: And of course you wrapped up the Goilala election a week or so ago. Were you satisfied with how that went?
AT: Yes, Goilala is a small open electorate. We had no problem. The teams went in. There's only one LLG (local level government) area that we started a bit late in because of the late arrival of the helicopter.
JB: Has the government been supportive with releasing funds in time for these crucial by-elections?
AT: The response from the Treasury department in terms of funding is very positive. We received the balance of the total budget before the start of the polling and we managed to pay for all of the charters and the allowances for the teams to go into those areas, security allowances and so I have no problems with the release of funding from the department of Treasury and Finance.
JB: One of the reasons that the West Sepik by-election was held was because of that court decision which rendered the former Governor's win in the 2012 election as null and void, because of underage voters and voter fraud. Have you heard any reports that this stuff has happened again in the by-election; has there been more underage sort of manipulation of voting?
AT: There's a petition that was filed by a certain number of candidates last week, and the returning officer requested more information before he can look at those allegations and decide on what to do with the ballot papers from... especially Telefomin and Oksapmin LLG areas. But they haven't provided those informations so the returning officer has the discretion to either put aside those ballot boxes or admit those ballot boxes. He has decided to admit the ballot boxes for counting.
JB: And do you have a figure on how much there two latest by-elections have cost?
AT: Goilala was four million kina. And for the West Sepik, it's ten million. 14.2 million kina in total.
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