29 Jul 2017

PNG's Ombudsman obtains court order to extend return date for writs

6:32 am on 29 July 2017
The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court.

The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Papua New Guinea's Ombudsman Commission has obtained an interim court order to extend the deadline for the return of election writs to Monday, to give those electorates not yet declared more time.

Chief Ombudsman Michael Dick told EMTV that the Electoral Commission was given an extension this week, writs were due in on Monday but the deadline was shifted to Friday.

Mr Dick said the Commission was not allowed another extension, so the Ombudsman Commission stepped in to assist the process by seeking a court order to extend the time of the return of writs to next Monday.

"To allow for those other citizens that are in progress of counting to complete and then for the writs to be returned, to give them that opportunity and that right to participate to appoint the prime minister and the speaker," he said.

As of Friday, twenty-three electorates had still not been declared, leaving an unprecedented gap in the parliamentary make-up at the time of the invitation to form government.

Michael Dick said the Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato must abide by this court order.

He said the move was to reassure the electorates whose writs have not been returned that this court order would allow their elected members to participate in the first sitting of parliament.

On Friday afternoon, before the court order was given, Mr Gamato had returned the writs from the election to the Governor-General, Bob Dadae.

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

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