PAPUA New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill recorded history by being elected into office for a second year term on July 2. He defeated a determined coalition of parties known as ‘The Alliance’ in a vote 60 to 46 but the real challenges are those that lie ahead for the re-elected Prime Minister. The returning Prime Minister will have many questions to answer for the general conduct of this year’s elections, the ninth in PNG’s short history.
The election has been marred by violence, numerous allegations of malfeasance, an attempted kidnapping, and comical court proceedings. A common feature across the country was the poor state of the electoral roll. Thousands of Papua New Guineans, many of whom voted in 2012, were disenfranchised, ineligible to vote because their names did not appear on the updated list. Independent observers have called the state of the electoral roll ‘alarming’, and it is the largest single issue that threatens the legitimacy of the election.
The Commonwealth Observer Group highlighted in its preliminary report that a key issue and challenge to the election has been the significant number of eligible voters whose names were not on the common roll. The Group was very disappointed to note that previous COG reports that highlighted the need to address this issue, have yet to be implemented.
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