Blame PNG Election Commission for chaos

Re-elected Papua New Guinea MP Tim Masiu says much of the blame for the country’s election fiasco can be directed at the Electoral Commission.

The Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae has accepted a recommendation from the Electoral Commission to delay the return of writs in the country’s general election. 

Masiu, who was Communications Minister in the former government, said there were no disruptions in his South Bougainville seat. 

He said the violence and disruption around the rest of Papua New Guinea will be a major focus of the new government. 

Masiu accuses the Commission of sitting around in the five years between elections when it should have been doing things like updating the electoral roll.

“The Government gives them a lot of money. We pay everything to the Electoral Commission.

“We paid for the resources that they needed but they are ill-prepared I guess. 

“And maybe there’s not enough qualified people to run the election, so it takes a whole lot to do a post-mortem on what happened and I am sure the government will come up with a few changes.”

Masiu also called for more scrutiny of candidates lining up to contest elections and an increase in the nomination fee. 

“First of all, candidates who are standing for election in all the electorates they should be screened properly.

“They should have no police records, they should have good qualifications – some kind of criteria should be used.

“Also, we should increase the nomination fee. Just now [it’s] a mere 1000 kina. Anybody can pull out 1000 kina from somewhere,” he said.

“Right now we did not receive any report from the school inspector or the provincial education board advising us of the situation in Porgera, so we cannot make a decision on the schools there,” Dr Kombra said. 

He was asked to clarify the department’s stand on the schools in Porgera which the media was told in an earlier conference by Engan professionals that schools and other government infrastructure were looted and forced to close by the tribal fighting that resulted in killings.

PNG violence leave schools hopeless

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra has not received any reports from the education authorities in Enga province on how the violence in Porgera has affected schools there.

A Porgera Secondary School teacher Robert Aliape said three weeks ago, teachers had abandoned their houses and fled for safety. Those from outside provinces left Enga. 

“Thugs broke into the teachers’ houses, and walked away with laptops and every household goods they liked,” Aliape said. 

“Right now, we, the 43 teachers, have no hope in going back. 

“The doors of the 10 duplex teachers’ houses are wide open and outsiders are walking in and out as I speak.” 

He said the other 42 teachers were scattered all over and in hiding because of election-related violence in other parts of the province as well. 

The deputy principal Mason Naipe said the teachers would be convened soon to get the teachers’ views on the situation.