New PNG political coalition emerging

7:24 pm on 24 July 2017
Sam Basil (Leader of Pangu) and William Samb (Member-elect for Goilala) meeting with Sir Mekere Morauta

Sam Basil (Leader of Pangu) and William Samb (Member-elect for Goilala) meeting with Sir Mekere Morauta Photo: supplied

A group of three large parties, a number of smaller political parties and independents in Papua New Guinea are endeavouring to form a block known as the Alliance.

The Alliance is bringing together the National Alliance, the Pangu and the People's Progress parties with the aim of becoming the next government.

They plan to combine with the National Party, the PNG Party, CRP, the Melanesian Liberal Party, the Melanesian Alliance, New Generation, the Peoples' Movement for Change, the THE Party, PNG First, and the independents.

In Port Moresby at the weekend, the leader of the Pangu Party, Sam Basil, met with Sir Mekere Morauta, who is an independent, as well as the National Party's Kerenga Kua, to discuss the camping arrangements for their groups.

Sir Mekere said similar discussions are being held between the leaders and the National Alliance and the PPP.

Meanwhile the current prime minister Peter O'Neill has gathered members of his People's National Congress and other MPs to a camp in Alotau where they say they are setting the government's policy agenda for the new parliament.

The PNC has more seats than any other party so far, with 16 of the 46 declared.

However Sir Mekere and others have warned that the Electoral Commission would allow an undemocratic, unfair and unrepresentative sitting of Parliament by what he calls a selective and staggered return of writs and candidate declarations.

Sir Mekere leads the vote count in the Moresby Northwest seat but the process has advanced slowly with multiple disruptions for around two weeks.

The Pacific Islands Forum team observing the PNG elections says an alarming number of names were left off the roll.

It saids these included people who had lived in electorates their whole lives and had voted in previous elections, and people who claimed to have updated their voter details with electoral authorities.

In the team's interim report, it identifies this as the most serious of the challenges encountered.

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Photo: PIF

It also said it's disappointing that a large number of PNG citizens were disenfranchised, particularly considering the observed high levels of civic awareness and interest in the election.

An absence of security personnel at some polling stations and the late deployment of security personnel in some remote locations have also been pinpointed by the Forum team as problems.

The team says both situations were reportedly due to the late disbursement of funds.

There were also isolated incidences of discrepancies observed in procedures for polling, including assisted polling.

The Forum Team also said the same issues have been raised by observer teams in 2007 and 2012.

It said a more concerted and timely effort needs to be made to learn from experiences and prepare for future elections.

This included timely support by the National Government to the Electoral Commission and relevant departments and agencies.

In other developments today PNG's Governor General has extended the deadline for the return of election writs to the end of this week.

The deadline for the return of writs was today however the Electoral Commissioner has confirmed the date has been deferred to Friday, 28th of July.

The Commissioner Patilias Gamato has appealed to electorates which are slow in making declarations to try hard to complete counting before Friday.

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Mr Gamato says that by Friday, whatever writs have been returned to him, he will present to the Head of State.

He indicated that electorates whose writs are not returned by the time will still be allowed to finish their counting and deliver their writs past the deadline, suggesting parliament will convene without MPs-elect from such seats.