Election dates still stand: Electoral Commissioner

PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato says the current tentative 2017 National Election dates approved by the Governor-General still stands.

He made this statement in light of the Opposition’s outburst of his comments in a daily newspaper last week on legislations before Parliament to change the election dates.

Gamato said the revised date for the Issue of Writs from April 20 to May 20 depends entirely on Parliament's deliberations on the legislative amendments Bill on election laws to be tabled when it sits on January 24.

"If Parliament, which is the law-maker decides to change the date, I have no choice but to go by the laws that are made by the Parliament."

"People must know that the Electoral Commission and the National Executive Council (Cabinet) are not law making bodies. It's Parliament that makes laws and if it decides to change electoral laws, we must go by Parliament's decision," Gamato said.   

He added that if the legislation is passed, the deferment of the issue of writs by one month will be constitutionally legal because it will be within the five year anniversary of this term of Parliament.

The legislation will see a reduction of the campaign period, from two months to one month.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader Don Polye said the O’Neill-Dion Government is trying to change the election dates for its self-interest.      

“I am calling on the Members of Parliament to observe that what the Prime Minister is doing is corruption, I am saying this without any reservations that these laws here are corrupt laws they do not serve Papua New Guinea, there is no justification to the laws.”

The Opposition Leader added that since Independence it had been a norm for the election Issue of Writs to be issued between March and April, and two months of campaign period.   

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in a statement said the elections will be delivered in an efficient and effective manner right across the country, and appealed to the Opposition to respect Electoral Commission as a Constitutional office of the nation, and not try to drag it into politics. 

Caption: File picture. 

Charles Yapumi