Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape wants a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to work immediately on a submission to go before cabinet next year 2023, on how to improve the country’s electoral process.
With PNG set to mark its 50th Independence anniversary in 2025, and the next National General Elections in 2027, Marape told Parliament last week that his government wants to secure the voting system in time for these two major events and beyond.
He was responding to Opposition Leader Joseph Lelang who, during Questions Without Notice, asked him a series of questions on reviewing the electoral process, the work of the parliamentary committee, and citizens’ identification and how these relate to voting.
Marape agreed with the Opposition Leader, saying that the many challenges of PNG’s electoral system have become “very serious business” and that the country needed a “better electoral process”.
“The parliamentary committee that we established is a bi-partisan parliamentary committee, with members from both the Opposition and Government,” he said.
“We want them to be at work; we want them to have full funding, to be at arm’s length from government, and have a holistic review into what happened in 2022 (National General Elections), in 2017, 2012, 2007 and going back over the entire process.
“We want them to put in an informed, fact-based suggestion to us on how we conduct elections in 2027 and beyond.
“The committee has the freedom to establish the terms of reference. The government will not influence this committee and its independence of work.
“The committee can go to work right away. From the desktop: establish a template, what needs to be done, as well as the detailed work that should start as soon as possible, and run exhaustive work in the early part of 2023.
“The overall timeframe I am looking at is that by 2025, we will have arrived at a process clearly – whatever that is.”
The Prime Minister said bio-metric voting through the National Identification system would be worked out, especially now that the government will conduct a comprehensive census next year 2023 to get better data on the population of PNG.
He said this would help toward improving the voting system so that by 2027, there is an improved and secured system.
“The government will hold back our commentary and get this committee to recommend to us and certainly the consideration of an independent team to work with this committee can be looked at. “By 2023, the proposal should have matured to submission level that should come to government for implementation,” said PM Marape.