Patilias Gamato

17 provinces commence polling

Most of the delays around the country have been due to issues of missing names on the electoral rolls, security, outstanding service providers’ costs, disagreements with election presiding officials and movement of materials due to bad weather for those rural areas.

He said these when giving an update on the progress of polling in the provinces, since Saturday, from across the country.

In the New Guinea Islands region, all five provinces started on Saturday except for New Ireland, which commenced polling on Monday, and Bougainville.

Gamato allows use of preliminary roll

He said in areas where the bulk of voters do not find their names on the Electoral Roll, the preliminary roll can be used by election officials.

“What I’ve decided is that they can go back and use the preliminary roll,” says the commissioner.

Commissioner Gamato explained that the preliminary roll is the first or draft roll that they did when the enrolment forms came in and data was entered. After the objection, the outcome is the final roll.

​People with disabilities will vote: Gamato

This was reiterated by the Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato.

Their voting will be at the Cheshire Home in Port Moresby, the reason being that the venue has special facilities readily available for PLWDs.

There will be six boxes available at the venue - two for each electorate in NCD.

Gamato said PLWDs also have the constitutional right to express and cast their vote without fear or favour.

He encouraged all PLWDs living in and around the city to make their way to Chesire home to cast their votes.

NCD's one-day polling starts today at 8am.

Gamato dispels rumours on extra ballot papers

This was the clarification from the Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato, this morning.

Dispelling rumours on social media, Gamato said the extra papers are safe and secure.

Gamato assures the people of PNG that the ballot papers and boxes have not been tampered with, giving assurance that special joint forces in each of the provinces have been posted to guard the sensitive items up until polling day.

Meanwhile, he adds that the common rolls have all been updated, while most of the sensitive polling materials have been sent to all provinces already.

Funding, security and manpower

Chief Secretary and chairman for IDEC, Isaac Lupari, said funding should not be an issue for operations in the elections.

He spoke of the government’s commitment towards the 2017 general elections, saying the government is a major supporter for the smooth running of the elections in the country.

He urged the electoral officials to change the public perception of Hela Province being one of the major hotspots for security risks.

Lupari said the presence of the three disciplinary forces is not to intimidate the people but to help where necessary.

​Ballot papers arrive in 9 provinces

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato confirmed with Loop PNG that the distribution exercise started on Saturday, two weeks before polling for the 2017 National Election starts.    

“All polling materials dispatched to all provinces. Sensitive materials like ballot papers, ink rolls, candidate posters started going out on Saturday,” Gamato said.  

He confirmed the provinces are Manus, Bougainville, Sandaun, East Sepik, Oro, Milne Bay, Western, Morobe and Madang.

Gamato said the Australian Defence Force is helping airlift the materials to each province.

Gamato: It’s before the Courts

“Their matter is in the Supreme Court and is expected back in court on Thursday,” Gamato told Loop PNG, referring to the action by candidates and supporters disrupting flights into the Western Highlands capital this afternoon.     

“These are the same people who filed the case against me and are now taking the law into their own hands to close the Kagamuga Airport.”

A passenger who travelled from neighbouring Southern Highlands Province, Brian Waffi confirmed with Loop PNG that the candidates and their supporters were sitting on the tarmac and protesting.

Kagamuga airport disrupted by candidates and supporters

Flights in and out of the airport were cancelled with frustrated passengers from the other Highlands Provinces left stranded.

Air Niugini Public Relations confirmed the suspension of its afternoon flight, and said an official statement will be released once approved by the CEO.

A passenger who travelled from neighbouring Southern Highlands Province, Brian Waffi said it was frustrating because he did not plan to spend a night in Mt Hagen.

He said all the candidates and their supporters are sitting on the tarmac and protesting.

Printing of candidate posters underway

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato told Loop PNG that the candidate posters for Momase, New Guinea Islands and Southern Regions are in print and Highlands Region will be printed soon after corrections are made. He said the delay is because of candidates’ photos.

The PNGEC candidate posters will be placed at the voting area for voters to identity their candidates and mark their preferences.   

Gamato said ballot papers are enough for the 111 Open and Provincial Seats, and the work of voter enrolment is complete.

​Polye questions Gamato’s decision

"The justification by Patilias Gamato is low and shallow,” says Opposition Leader Don Polye. 

“It is to do with their future in the next five years. He has lost his bearing to conduct a free, fair, democratic and safe election.

"I ask him to come to sense and do the right thing.”

Polye said some returning officers have clear evidences available to warrant for a change.

"Twenty-seven days is enough to make those genuine and necessary changes to ensure a trouble-free election.