Papua New Guinea
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Issue of Writs deferred: EC

BY JEFFREY ELAPA

The Issue of Writs for the two by-elections and the supplementary election have been deferred again to next Thursday.

Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai yesterday said that the Commission has deferred the issue of writs for the Wewak open and the North Bougainville Open seats due to delays beyond the Electoral Commission’s powers.

The Electoral Commission has confirmed Thursday August 3 as the final date for the Issue of the Writs for the Wewak and North Bougainville Open seat while the Writs for the Lagaip Open will be deferred to later dates due to tribal fights that are occuring in the province.

The Commissioner said the supplementary election for the Lagaip Open seat will be held after police give the clearance. Enga Provincial Police Commander, Superintendent George Kakas, has sought a deferral of the elections by a month to allow the tribal fights in the province to slow down.

The issue for the Writs for the two by-elections were supposed to be issued today, but funding for the elections are yet to be cleared by the bank.

The Electoral Commissioner said police funding and logistics are also not ready and the remaining days will be used to clear these issues before the issuance of the Writs on Thursday next week.

Meanwhile, sources on the ground in Wewak and in Buka said officials on the ground are not ready and the deferral would give them time to organise themselves and prepare for the elections.

Mr Sinai said funding and security are important components of an election operation and the Commission did not want to rush things.

The Electoral Commissioner said, through his media officer Tande Tamane. “Security and other preparations including the funding are crucial part of an election as we are dealing with people’s lives.

We will wait for police to sort out their budget and other operational requirements within the next few days and issue the Writs next Thursday, August 3.

He said police will have to go to the respective electorates and carry out security assessments on the ground and advice the Commission accordingly.

“We must ensure there is safety and security on the ground so our people can exercise their democratic rights in a free, fair and secure environment.

We cannot conduct elections when there are safety and security issues on the ground,” he said.