Commissioner Patilias Gamato said he had written to the SOE Controller David Manning to exempt both districts from the lock-down, so they can conduct the by-elections.
However, Manning responded and asked the PNGEC to hold back on the by-elections, but Gamato said the decision to hold them, rests on him as the electoral Commissioner.
“This is no disrespect and disobedience to the laws and regulations of the SoE,” Gamato said.
“As Commissioner, I am mindful that the national government, political parties and candidates and PNG Electoral Commission have already spent a lot of money for the Menyamya by-election, and to further delay it would be unfair for everyone.”
Gamato said, he has not advised the Head of State to issue the writ for the Goroka Open by-election, although the dates have already been approved by His Excellency, so he can delay it by at least a month.
“However, for Menyamya by-election, the electoral process is half way through now since the writ has already been issued on February 13 and the process is in motion.”
Campaigning in Menyamya is scheduled to end today, April 4th, while polling will be a one day activity that is scheduled to commence on April 15.
“I will be giving specific instructions to the Returning Officer for Menyamya by-election and his Assistant Returning Officers to closely observe the rules and regulations of the SoE to control crowds and rules of social distancing during the polling and counting,” Gamato said.