3 Feb 2003

PNG Media Council heeds Electoral Commission's warning over election cases

5:26 pm on 3 February 2003

The Papua New Guinea Media Council has taken notice of comments by PNG's acting Electoral Commissioner, Andrew Trawen, urging media not to speculate over court cases connected with the Southern Highlands elections.

The Council's president, Peter Aitsi, says Mr Trawen's concern is over people hi-jacking the elections again after last year's poll was rejected following violence and killings that stopped voting in many areas in the province.

Six seats in the national parliament have remained vacant because of the problems.

A candidate in last year's failed election, Hami Yawari, disagrees with the decision that none of the votes from that election will be counted and has taken the matter to court.

While such a court case is looming, Mr Aitsi says Mr Trawen's concerns are fair.

"There's a particular group of people who are very influential that were candidates in the past election and that were facilitating some of the importation of guns into the province; and I think his concern is these people, as they've done in the past, will manipulate some elements of the media to destabilise the election process."

The PNG Media Council's Peter Aitsi