10 MAY 2010 PORT MORESBY (POST COURIER/ THE NATIONAL)) --- Papua New Guinea is 24 months from the issue of writs for the 2012 General Elections but time is short for the election preparations to be held smoothly.
Deputy Prime Minister Sir Dr Puka Temu and deputy electoral commissioner operations John Kalamorah last week separately called for the speeding up of the process.
Sir Puka said a legislative framework must be approved by authorities this year to allow the elections to take place in the two new provinces of Hela and Jiwaka and the proposed 22 reserved seats for women.
Sir Puka, who opened discussions at the National Research Institute on the presentation of an academic paper by Dr James McPherson from the Institute of National Affairs (INA) titled “Timelines and Deadlines: Electorates for the Next Parliament and Related Matters,” said it was important that the workshop came up with concrete recommendations and a legislative framework to speed up the process.
Mr Kalamorah added that if the legislative framework was not in place by June this year, it could be too late to carry out elections for the two provinces where there will be several electorates created and at the same time the women’s seats.
Dr McPherson also said in his discussion paper that time was short for implementing consequences of changes in all the electorates.
He said the flow-on implementations included electoral rolls for the new electorates, increased numbers in the new Parliament, district administrations for the new districts; new local level government areas and new local level government electoral rolls for all the electorates.
He said according to the deadlines and timelines for the National Elections, the 2012 elections could be problematic, particularly in the newly created Hela Province’s electorates.
“Oil and gas can easily explode if not handled with care. “Oil and gas can easily explode in Hela (Province) down to the coast and across the nation. “The spark could begin with failure to provide for a duly elected governor of the new province,” Dr McPherson said.
Mr Kalamoroh said the Electoral Commission could only operate according to the current laws which only allowed for the 20 open seats and 89 electorates.
He said there was an urgency to change the laws in relation to Section 35 on the National Elections to allow for an increase in the seats from 89 to 91 and this will be to include Hela and Jiwaka provinces and the 22 reserved women’s seats He said government must amend the Constitution to allow for a review of the electoral boundaries. Mr Kolamoroh said section 125 provided for a boundaries commission to recommend electorates and boundaries, adding electoral boundaries are supposed to be reviewed every 10 years.
The first review took place in 1977 and the last in 2005. He said the government had rejected all the reports on the electoral boundaries since 1977.
Mr Kolamoroh said in order for the commission to review the boundaries, it would need four months, adding with funding restraints, it was unlikely.
He said there were 89 open electorates in the country, “and if there are to be 110 open electorates, where will the mystery ones be fixed, and with the introduction of the 22 reserve seats where will they fit in?’’.
Mr Kolamoroh said time was running out as the 2012 national elections were less than two years away with the writs to be issued in April 2012. ....PNS (ENDS)