Papua New Guinea
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Presence at Issue of Writs creates controversy

A recent photograph of an intending candidate with the Governor General Sir Bob Dadae and the Electoral Com-missioner Simon Sinai during the issue of the Writs has caused much controversy.

The photograph being circulated on the social media has caused disrepute to the office of the Governor General at the Government House and the office of the Electoral Commissioner in running an impartial supplementary by-election.

Concerns have also been raised to the office of the Governor General and the Electoral Commissioner if it was a de-liberate move to influence the outcome of the Lagaip Open seat before the supplementary election is being conducted.

Mack Ponoso, a community leader from Pili Kambi LLG in the Lagaip district has called on the Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai and Governor General Sir Bob Dadae to explain the reason behind Pangu Party candidate Aimos Akem in a photo after issuing the Writs at the Government House.

Mr Ponoso said it is unfair and compromised the fairness of the election and undermined public trust in the democratic process.

He said for the government to carry out early campaign for their candidate before the voting had already disadvantaged the other candidates.

In June, Pangu Party stalwart and Minister for Finance and National Planning Rainbo Paita confirmed the endorsement of Mr Akem as the official candidate for the 2023 Lagaip Open Supplementary Election during the opening of the K13.5 m Ausaid funded Wabag Market redevelopment project.

Despite the announcement, it is clear that the Pangu Party caucus has not officially endorsed him as party candidate.

General Secretary of Pangu Party Morris Tovabae declined to comment but said he is aware of the concerns raised.

Mr Sinai said the Electoral Commission was not aware of the candidate’s presence but his presence may have being organised through the Government House.

Asked if it was a practise to allow candidates to witness the issue of writs and take pictures, he said it is not right and it has never been done in history.