Defer LLG polls, recommends Gamato

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has recommended to the Minister for Inter-Government Relations, Kevin Isifu, to have the Local Level Government elections deferred to April 2019.

He made the recommendation in his advice to the Minister last Thursday, 26 April, in Port Moresby.

This follows the receipt of three written legal opinions on the subject from the Acting Secretary for Justice & Attorney General, Dr. Lawrence Kalinoe, State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea and the Secretary for Constitutional & Law Reform Commission, Dr. Eric Kwa.

“The sake of balance of opinion, the Electoral Commission has also sought legal opinion from its private lawyers and those opinions are in harmony with the legal opinion received from the Government’s leading lawyers,” Gamato said.

In the Commission’s assessment of factors likely to affect effective election plans and operations of the LLG elections supported by legal opinion, Gamato outlines the following as reasons for the deferral:

  • The Law on the term of office for the members of Local-level Governments
  • The Declaration of State of Emergency by Parliament (in the five earthquake stricken Highlands provinces)
  • The practicalities, difficulties and effectiveness to conduct LLG elections in the earthquake affected provinces and distraction of funds appropriated to disaster affected areas
  • The risks posed by debts from the 2012 and 2017 national elections and the 2013 LLG elections
  • Distractions to APEC summit
  • Financial issues faced by the Government

“Given the above reasons, I have recommended to Minister Isifu to appropriately advise the National Government that the LLG elections nationwide be deferred to a further 12 months,” stated Gamato.

“This would allow the National Government, through the Electoral Commission, to better prepare, manage and conduct the LLG elections properly.”

Gamato, in the meantime, also proposed the new timelines and activities to be considered and approved for the LLG elections:

  1. Issue of Writs & Nomination Open -                 26 April, 2019
  2. Close of Nominations -                                         01 May, 2019
  3. Polling -                                                                     20 May – 03 June, 2019
  4. Return of Writs -                                                     24 June, 2019

(Minister for Inter-Government Relations, Kevin Isifu, left, with Commissioner Patilias Gamato)

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