Election date standoff

PAPUA New Guinean Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah aims to delay the midyear election by 12 months according to a recent speech he made, while PM Peter O’Neill wants the election to run as scheduled.
Election date standoff Election date standoff Election date standoff Election date standoff Election date standoff

On Wednesday, both leaders and other cabinet ministers were at Vanimo in Namah's home province of West Sepik (also known as Sanduan) when announcing 140 million kina of projects would be spent in the province.

But Namah also took the opportunity to make a public warning to O'Neill.

"You said to hold the election by April 27 [when the writs are due to be issued] this year and a new government comes in," Namah told O'Neill according to The National.

"The projects will not be implemented and the government policy of free education and free health care will be dismantled.

"This government must continue."

While the failure of the national census last year is well known, Namah reportedly said PNG's Electoral Commission had also failed the people and 40% of the common roll had not been completed in the highlands region alone.

He was convinced a new biometric voting system needed to be in place for the next election.

"The government has plans to delay the election for 12 months to fully implement government policies and [ensure] a fair election," Namah reportedly said.

However, the Australian High Commission already warned that implementing the biometric voting system, which uses fingerprint scanning technology, could take five years to implement in PNG.

There are also fears the new voting system can be manipulated.

Namah previously aimed to delay the election by six months although Parliament was deemed to only have the legal power to change the election schedule under a state of emergency.

Namah commands more Parliament numbers than O'Neill but the PM has won a lot of popular support in PNG.

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