We are Ready
BY GORETHY KENNETH
PAPUA New Guinea is ready to kick start the 2017 National General Election this morning with key Government agencies positioned for the two-month polls operations.
Governor-General Bob Dadae and PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato officially started the ball rolling at 10.05am by signing of the 111 writs at Government House. More than 1000 out of 4000 candidates, among them Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, are scheduled to nominate today and tomorrow before the closing date next Thursday, April 27.
About 40,000 temporary election workers have been engaged nationwide, most of them public servants.
More than 10,600 security personnel are on standby for “pre-deployment” operation, which will start on May 1, but all 22 provincial police stations start their operations this morning.
Police Commissioner Gari Baki, PNG Defence Force commander Brigadier-General Gilbert Toropo and Correctional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo, said their men and women are ready for election duties.
A total of K10 million of the earmarked K221 million has been received as the election operations start.
Mr Baki said yesterday that the normal provincial police force will maintain security operations starting today until May 1, when a special unit will be deployed to the Highlands region, as well as Bougainville and parts of New Guinea Islands, Momase and Southern regions.
He said security would be boosted in high risk areas, warning of unethical behaviour from his police personnel, as well as from the public.
“The training and guide handbook that all election operating officers have, will ensure unethical conduct and security threatening instances, such as the presence of guns, will not be tolerated,” Mr Baki said.
“We also have an election investigation team that has been identified and will be deployed discreetly to all polling areas to monitor threat levels, and isolate which candidates are using malicious tactics during the election process.”
Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato, confirmed yesterday that the national election writs will be issued this morning, and nominations open immediately after the ceremony at all the designated venues for nominations throughout PNG.
In the nation’s capital, nominations will be accepted at NCD electoral office at Turumu Street, Boroko, for NCD Provincial seat and Moresby Northwest Open electorate; Jack Pidik Park, Five-Mile for nominations for Moresby Northeast Open electorate; and Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Kondedobu, for nominations for Moresby South Open electorate.
Mr Gamato said that the total number of Form 11 issued for the 2017 election was 850,000, the crude projection for eligible voters now stands at about 5.5 million people, but only about 4.1 million voters will come forward and vote in the 2017 national election.
The total number of ballot papers available for use in the 2017 national election is 10 million – five million ballot papers for the Provincial seats and five million for Open seats. “We will issue ballot papers according to the number of eligible voters on the enrolment figure,” Mr Gamato added.
“Any extra ballot papers will be cancelled before they are dispatched to provinces. We also have generic ballot papers available for special cases, but these generic ballot papers will be issued only under the authority of the electoral commissioner.”
Today’s program for the issue of writs at Government House: 8.30-9am – Arrival of media representatives, heads of missions and Electoral Commission staff, 9.30am Commissioner Patilias Gamato arrives, 10am Arrival of Governor-General Bob Dadae,10.05am Ceremony starts to issue 111 orders and writs, Traditional toast to the Queen, and commissioner Gamato’s news conference for individual candidates.