The Inter-Departmental Election Committee (IDEC) has defended the government’s electoral process amidst frustrations and disappointments expressed by Papua New Guinean voters during polling, and called for peace and calm.
Chairman of IDEC and Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council, Ivan Pomaleu, says against all odds, election officials were able to conduct safe and free elections throughout most parts of the country, during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“I commend the hard working election officials for your devotion and commitment during this time. Despite confronting challenges, you were able to oversee and conduct polling peacefully.”
Mr. Pomaleu stressed that Papua New Guinea had encountered similar challenges in recent elections, especially during polling process, however, added, citizens did not expect such issues of breaching the election process during the week, could suppress their freedom to exercise their voting rights.
“I believe in our election processes as trustworthy and can be adjusted to suit the wishes of those involved in the election, but to continue with the uncalled deferral of polling is beyond one’s comprehension.”
Mr. Pomaleu said those election officials were entrusted to move the election forward however, it was unfortunate they had to stand down, just over their emotions that the election process and the system have been interfered with.
“There are even bigger irregularities in voting that are more serious elsewhere around the world, resulting in protests and burning of properties, but in Papua New Guinea, just because the election process was interfered with, how is it possible for officials to jeopardize polling by resigning and deferring voting.”
Mr. Pomaleu added that despite that incident, polling in NCD was conducted peacefully in Moresby North-West and Moresby South while polling in Moresby North-East will commence today, Monday, 11 July.
In other parts of the Highlands region, a small fraction of disgruntled and aggressive supporters of candidates have incited violence during the cause of polling in which State properties have been damaged.
“IDEC condemns such actions and calls on the Joint Security Task Force to apprehend the perpetrators.”
Chairman Pomaleu has also acknowledged the presence of international observers who have been engaged to support the election process currently underway, and believe the Electoral Commission is being guided by their presence in the country.
“In recent elections, there have been bitter disputes about the integrity of our electoral system.
“As of now, the country continues to witness these appalling scenes of disturbance and violence, created by a few disgruntled and aggressive people, especially in the Highlands region.
“I appeal to candidates and their supporters to ensure their voters are comfortable and not discouraged, while casting their votes, and to display a sense of maturity and responsibility during the cause of polling and to avoid further violence.”
Meanwhile, Mr.Pomaleu added that the Government has invested a lot of resources in delivering a safe and secure election, however, he notes with regret, actions by a few disrespectful and warmongering groups of people who are determined to frustrate the election process by destroying State assets.
“These violent actions must stop immediately.”