Doubts over independence of PNG elections management

3:54 pm on 18 April 2017

Doubts have been expressed about the impartiality of an election steering committee which controls funds for managing Papua New Guinea's upcoming elections.

Crowd at an election rally in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea.

Crowd at an election rally in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

A US$120 million election budget is to be controlled by the committee whose chairman is the Chief Secretary to government, Isaac Lupari, rather than the Electoral Commissioner.

A number of intending candidates were concerned that this arrangement could enable interference in the Electoral Commission's role in managing the elections.

Intending candidate in Hela province Raymond Kuai said the constitution states the Commission must operate independently from any other arm of government.

"What is independence for Electoral Commission without the Electoral Commission managing its own funds, determining its own operations, budgeting its own funds, as to where and how it must be spent. So in other words, there is political interference. The government of the day wants to diminish the independence of an important constitutional arm of government."

The Electoral Commission Paulius Gamato denied that there would be any political interference in the management of the five-yearly elections.

He said the Commission would be free to conduct its work impartially.

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