PM slams Opposition claims on Electoral Commission

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill slams Oppositions claims that PNG Electoral Commission is not independent.

O’Neill said the Electoral Commission is a constitutional office and must not be dragged into politics.

"It his highly disrespectful, and goes against the nature of our democracy, for the Leader of the Opposition to seek to tarnish the reputation of the Electoral Commission as he has done,” the Prime Minister stated in a statement.  

“The Opposition has to respect the fact that the Electoral Commission must remain separate from political debate and be allowed to deliver its mandated job without fear or favour.

Opposition Leader Don Polye on Tuesday said a report of the deferment of Issue of Writs for the 2017 National Elections published in The National newspaper on Monday; compromises the independence of the Electoral Commission.

“Mr Gamato has lost himself his personal and professional credibility and also his decisions and actions as the Electoral Commissioner of Papua New Guinea as brought into question the integrity and credibility  of the commission and the role it plays.

 “The electoral commissioner is not performing that is required of him he has not maintained the constitutionality of the office he occupies; he has not maintained the independency of the office the Electoral Commission, what he has done now is succumbed himself to the National Executive Council decisions,” Polye said.

Meanwhile, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato when contacted by Loop PNG said he will make and official statement soon.  

The daily newspaper reported that the dates for the issue of writs may be deferred to May 20 because of legislations before Parliament.   

Parliament will convene for its last term on January 24.

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

Parliament must pass the legislation to make changes to 2017 National Election dates before it becomes valid. 

Charles Yapumi