Only Parliament can change election dates: Basil

Only Parliament has the authority to change any existing laws governing National elections, says deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil.

The local Bulolo MP told a press conference in Port Moresby that, this week’s announcement of the deferral of a major constitutional event, such as the issue of writs is illegal.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato was quoted in The National newspaper that the dates for the issue of writs may be deferred to May 20 because of legislations before Parliament.   

The date for the 2017 National Elections issue of writs is April 20 and July 24 is the return of writs.

“Mr Gamato must explain his organisations’ original advice and submission to the National Executive Council (NEC) that has provided the inspiration for these major proposed changes to PNG’s election laws,” Basil questioned.  

He said PNG’s electoral calendar must not be politically engineered to undermine the constitutional guarantee of, ‘free and fair’ elections.

Meanwhile, 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. 

 “The Nation’s Electoral Commission has been preparing for this election since 2012, and I am confident that 2017 elections will take place in a transparent way that will deliver certainty for our people,” O’Neill said.

“We cannot allow the wastage and exorbitant cost that was seen at previous elections to continue.”

The Opposition Leader Don Polye also urged Members of Parliament to vote with a conscience on January 24 when Parliament sits.    

“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.


Charles Yapumi