1007 Election Update Statement dated 10 July 2017

Firstly,I would like to make a statement on incidences of intimidation and aggression dished out by election security personnel to representatives of international election observers observing the 2017 national election at various locations nationwide.

So far, there were two incidences of intimidation and aggression by security personnel brought to my attention. And this has prompted me to write to the Commissioner of Police Gari Baki over the weekend to register my grave concerns.

The first incident occurred at the Rita Flynn Courts counting venue for Moresby North West and NCD Provincial Seat and it involved an observer, a local (PNG) who is deployed as part of the Australian National University.

He was punched by security personnel with his mobile phone smashed and was refused entry to the Rita Flynn Courts to oversee counting there.

The second incident brought to my attention involved members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) who are headed by former Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sir Billy Hilly.

The MSG observers were also subjected to harassment and aggression by security personnel on two occasions.

As Electoral Commissioner, I am deeply concerned about the manner in which election observers have been treated as this does not reflect well on us as host nation.

I have written the Police Commissioner Mr. Baki and have requested him to further remind members of the security forces to allow election observers to carry out their work without being subjected to harassment or aggression from security personnel – as long as the observers are acting within their Code of Conduct.

Resignation of Members of the Election Advisory Committee (EAC)The Second issue which I would like to respond to is the issue about the resignation of the three (3) members of the Election Advisory Committee.

I can only say here that the appropriate appointment authority is the Head of State who is the Governor General of Papua New Guinea.

Our correspondences with the Office of the Governor General today confirmed that the Governor General did not receive any official advice in terms of letters of resignation from two (2) members of the Election Advisory Committee, namely, Professor Luluaki and Richard Kassman.

Ombudsman Richard Pagan has yet to communicate to with me and my office on his stance.

I regret the EAC’s decision. This was an initiative which we hoped would be helpful to the election process.

The committee made some requests, and we tried to be helpful. But the role of the EAC was to give advice and recommendations, not to judge the election. It’s an Advisory Committee, after all. 

Perhaps there was some misunderstanding about their remit on their side, maybe on our side.

I would add that commission officials are hard pressed during this election period and they did receive quite a number of requests from the EAC.

Media Consultant

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