More university students' names not on PNG electoral roll

7:20 pm on 4 July 2017

Many University of Papua New Guinea students are among those denied a chance to vote in this year's election.

With the two week-polling period in its eleventh day, more reports are emerging of voters finding their names not on the electoral roll.

Polling area at University of PNG campus in Port Moresby during Papua New Guinea's 2017 election.

Polling area at University of PNG campus in Port Moresby during Papua New Guinea's 2017 election. Photo: Loop PNG

A UPNG student, Gerald Tulu Manu-Peni, said he made sure his name was on the roll in March, but found his name missing from it when he and others in the National Capital District went to vote last Friday.

Furthermore, at his polling area at the UPNG in Moresby Northwest there were only some 1300 ballot papers.

Mr Manu-Peni said this meant at least a couple thousand student voters missed out.

"Not only students at the University but all around the country this is the same problem going on, so it seems that there is really something wrong somewhere," he explained.

"Even though the exercise of updating the common roll was funded by the government, worth millions, in the last couple of years, still they couldn't at least make sure the common roll could be updated."

Election boxes in PNG

Election boxes in PNG Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Mr Manu-Peni said the election this year had not been free and fair to many people, something he attributed to incompetence of electoral officials.

"The system is ok but it's the people in the system that are not doing their job or that are simply too ignorant to do their jobs to at least make it free and fair for the citizens in this election."

The former UPNG Student Representative Council said he wouldn't rule out that the exclusion of many students was linked to their protest action last year.

Thousands of students boycotted classes for almost two months, demanding Prime Minister Peter O'Neill step down to answer to fraud allegations.

Their protest action did not prompt Mr O'Neill to stand down.

The problems at the UPNG polling area echo issues at other universities around the country.

At the University of Technology in Lae, students set fire to ballot papers last week after only 1500 ballot papers were provided for the polling area's voting population understood to be towards 5000.

PNG ballot papers were burnt at the University of Technology polling booth on campus.

PNG ballot papers were burnt at the University of Technology polling booth on campus. Photo: Peter Kinjap

Over 4000 University of Goroka students also claim they were left off the electoral roll and were denied the right to vote earlier last week.

Like their UPNG counterparts, University of Goroka and Unitech students were involved in the extensive class boycotts and protests last year.

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