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PNG Electoral Commissioner issues writs for election 2012, Battle lines drawn
5:15 pm GMT+12, 21/05/2012, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s Electoral  Commissioner Andrew Trawen issued 111 writs last Friday – officially declaring the start of the 2012 national election process.

In accordance with section 105 of the Constitution, and section 73 of the Organic Law, the writs were to be issued by the electoral commissioner and signed by the governor-general.

The electoral roll is now closed. The nomination of candidates closes on Thursday. The election campaign ends on June 22. Voting will start on June 23.  

The 111 writs, plus six copies each, are for the 22 provincial seats and 89 open electorates.

For the first time, Jiwaka and Hela are taking part in the general election as separate provinces.

The signing of the writs took place at the PNG Institute of Public Administration in Waigani, NCD, witnessed by staff of the commission, Government House and the media.

Trawen said he was pleased that “a significant amount of planning and preparation was spent for this major event and, with the formal issue of writs, the 2012 national election is now underway”.

The signing of writs began at 1pm and ended just before 4pm.

Trawen said the commission had faced a lot of criticism but was happy that the general election was ready to be delivered to PNG.

He said the commission would continue to process claims for enrolment forms dated May 18 or before, then print the rolls for polling.

Candidates also have a seven-day period to submit nomination forms to returning officers.

The commission will compile candidate posters to be used by voters at the polling booths soon after the close of nomination.

Trawen said counting would start soon after voting. The writs should be returned to the governor-general on or before July 27.

All candidates and political parties can obtain the nomination forms from the provincial election managers or the commission head office at Hohola.

A fee of K1, 000 (US$472) should be paid at the Electoral Commission’s nominated trust account with Bank South Pacific.

Candidates are required to provide original receipts and nominations forms to the returning officer or assistant returning officer in their electorates.

The documents must contain:
*Date of receipt on payment made;
*Full name of the paying candidate and/or political party;
*Full name of the electorate being contested; and
*Full amount of the prescribed fees in words and figures.

Trawen urged candidates and voters to observe the election laws and abstain from illegal acts during the election period.

Meanwhile, new battle lines were drawn between old political enemies as Election 2012 opened last Friday with the issuing of writs by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his deputy Belden Namah had signed a pact to return their People’s National Congress and PNG Party after the elections to form the next government.

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare has aligned his National Alliance party with the newly-launched People’s United Assembly led by Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru.

O’Neill and Namah signed an agreement last Friday to continue the partnership they started on Aug 2when they toppled Sir Michael’s administration.

Friday’s agreement by O’Neill and Namah indicated that each party will not field candidates to challenge seats held by the other party.

It also said after the general election, both parties would reform the coalition. The party with the highest number of members would lead the coalition to form the government.

The party with the lower number would fully support its coalition partner.

Speaking during the launch of the PUA party in Port Moresby on Saturday, Sir Michael said he would throw in his lot with Agiru and deputy leader Paul Tiensten.

“I am reminded that the People’s United Assembly stands to provide a new and fresh dimension to the art and culture of political leadership in Papua New Guinea well into the future.

“With their tried and tested leadership, character and charisma, and years of solid first-hand experience, I am confident that the People’s United Assembly will become one of the leading institutions in shaping our nation’s future political landscape and national development destiny.

“They have always stood by me and my team in both good times and bad.

“The recent malicious attacks on our Constitution since August last year have tested and consolidated their resolve.

“I am pleased that the support will continue after the 2012 general election,” he said.

Sir Michael said the country’s gross domestic product had grown from a mere K645.5 million in 1972 to K34 billion today. It is projected to reach K53 billion by 2016.

The country should be governed by leadership that is both visionary and inspirational for the common good – decisive, honest and accountable to the people, he said.

“These are the fundamental leadership qualities that characterised our nation’s political leadership for nine years up to Aug 2 last year,” he said.

“Looking back, the unbroken record years of positive broad-based economic growth (2002-11) was underscored by stability in politics, stability in policy, legislation and institutional processes and procedures, and respect for rule of law including stable rules of engagement with investors.”.


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