PNG electoral chief can't stop illegal campaigning

2:46 pm on 23 January 2017

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner says it is beyond his control to stop politicians from premature campaigning for this year's general elections.

PNG Party rally during the 2012 Papua New Guinea election campaign.

PNG Party rally during the 2012 Papua New Guinea election campaign. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

PNG is due for its five-yearly general elections in mid-2017, with the two-week polling period expected to take place around mid to late June.

The government plans to reduce the official campaign period from two months to one month prior to polling.

However, although it's illegal to campaign before the official period, the Commissioner Patilius Gamato said that many politicians had effectively begun campaigning already.

"To do early campaigning is illegal. But people out there are already doing their campaigns and that's something that we cannot stop. That's beyond my control and it's not my responsibility to prosecute anybody who is doing early campaigning. What I'm saying is you can refer them to police and police will charge them criminally."

He said people often made a decision on who they would vote for well before the official campaign period anyway.

But some MPs who oppose shortening the campaign duration have argued that the purpose of the campaigning period is to enable voters to learn more about issues of national interest and about the candidates, in order to make informed votes.

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