Chaos during 2022 PNG elections must not be repeated: Bird

Photo: Royal PNG Constabulary

Action must be taken to ensure that the chaos in Papua New Guinea General Election 2022 is not repeated in 2027, says parliamentary committee chairman Allan Bird.

Bird, who is studying the aftermath of the last elections, is adamant that doing nothing is not an option and is both “unacceptable and irresponsible.”

“If we do nothing, 2027 is going to be worse and that’s the threat.

“People need to be assured that they have confidence in the system,” he said.

“People have been having questions about every election.

“For us to continue without doing anything about all these processes that lead to elections is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

Election related issues like vote-tampering, violence which leads to deaths and misinformation are issues that are causing people to doubt every processes of the parliament, Bird said.

“In the age of social media where people share all kinds of information, including incorrect information that’s designed to mislead, it is especially important to ensure people are properly educated,” he said.

Bird said the majority of Papua New Guineans need to be confident with election results. “They need to believe in the public servants who operate the system and, in the processes, applied,” he said.

Bird said there was a need to restore credibility to Government.

“We have to build credibility in our systems so they can withstand the attacks of those who are interested in failing the system,” he said.

Bird also blamed the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDEC) and Government for not acknowledging and responding to questions asked by the general public.

He said the IDEC would take note of the recommendations and incorporate issues faced in previous elections were provided to the Government.

Government chief secretary Ivan Pomaleu said the prime minister directed IDEC to become a standing body that is working through the five-year election cycle rather than only in the months and weeks leading up the elections.

IDEC is responsible for supporting the electoral commissioner and agencies of state in preparations for the next election and will continue to provide the government with budget estimates, possible legislative changes and operational reforms.

Bird said Prime Minister Marape has directed that reforms to the electoral system must start early to ensure that a new electoral system is in place by the time of our 50th anniversary of Independence in 2025, well ahead of the next election taking place in 2027.

“This National Election Summit has been convened as an initiative of the IDEC, which I co-chair with the electoral commissioner,” he said. “The purpose of the summit is to hear from experts, observers and stakeholders about their experiences and views from the 2022 elections and take those experiences, views and learnings to help us formulate practical and evidence-based recommendations, said Bird.