The announcement by Papua New Guinea Electoral Commissioner, Simon Sinai, to delay PNG’s election by two weeks has met with concern.
Sinai has confirmed Thursday 12 May, 2022 as the date for the issue of writs and the opening of nominations for the 2022 National General Election.
He said the date change is needed to deal with issues including the production of ballot papers for the seven new electorates, funding issues and COVID-19 protocols.
The request to delay the election was formally made to the Governor General at 2pm Monday.
Polling will begin Saturday, 9 July 2022 and end Friday, 22 July 2022 whilst the return of writs date is 29 July, 2022. The campaign period will be reduced to seven weeks to compensate for the delay, Sinai told Post Courier.
Implications of the delay: Violence may occur warns former Commissioner
Meanwhile, the delay in the Issue of Writs will have an adverse implication on the security preparedness especially in the Highlands Region, says former Police Commissioner Gari Baki.
“Election has not started yet but I am sure the rumble and grumble of intending candidates will be heard in the Highlands especially in Enga, Hela and Southern Highlands.
“There are two issues that can happen in the proposed deferral, one intending candidates can still muster support before the issue of writs and two the intending candidates can become frustrated with the wait and before you realise what has happened, a fight or destruction occurs,” Baki said.
It is unconstitutional says former PNG Electoral Commissioner
Former Papua New Guinea Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has warned that any deferral of the National General Election 2022 will be unconstitutional.
He said statutory timelines gazetted in the National Gazette for the national elections cannot be breached to accommodate a deferral.
“The Head of State must not be misled and asked to unnecessary change dates for the activities within the electoral cycle. All processes are allocated times by law especially nomination, polling, campaign period, polling and counting “so that voters are not confused,” he said.
The campaign period is eight weeks minimum and 12 weeks maximum, including a nomination period by law.
“The National Government and the EC had five years to prepare for the elections. No government can conveniently try to extend the election to remain in office or in power after their term expires on the 5th anniversary of their term. Funding in my view is sufficiently allocated by the National Government,” he said.
Election to proceed as planned says PNG PM
However, Prime Minister James Marape assured the nation last Thursday that the elections will proceed as planned and that the Government will do its best to ensure funding is released on time.
“There have been skeptics saying that this government will not deliver the 2022 National General Election on time,” he said.
“As a responsible government, I’d like to dispel these doubts and inform this nation that we will deliver the election on time with a total budget of K600 million (US$170 million). To date, a total of K288 million (US$81 million) has been released for election preparation.
“Elections are not conducted overnight. The initial funding is to prepare for the elections and the conduct of the elections. Further funds will be released as required throughout this process,” he said.