By Adelaide Kari – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Since the conclusion of the 2017 National General Elections, concerns have been raised regarding the continuous delay in conducting the Local Level Government elections. Recently, the Ombudsman Commission filed a special court reference seeking to find out whether section 34 of the Organic Law allows for the deferral of the LLG elections for more than 3 months.
The first instance occurred in 2012 when the election was deferred to 2013 and the second in 2017 which was deferred to April this year.
The Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments section 34 states that the National General Elections and the LLG election shall be run concurrently.
The Ombudsman Commission filing a special reference with the supreme court to see if the deferral of the LLG elections for more than 3 months is unconstitutional.
In 2018 the Prime Minister stated in Parliament during question time that he had directed the Minister for Inter-Government relations to seek legal advice if Government can defer the LLG elections. The deferral stated in parliament was due to outstanding payments to Ward Councillors and LLG Presidents.
While the dates are set for April this year for the LLG elections, the Ombudsman Commission is concerned about the reason given for the deferral, “As lack of funding to the Electoral Commission”, and the compliance with relevant laws and the Constitution.
The Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato, stated that he was aware of the fact that the National General Election and LLG elections are to be conducted concurrently, he made this statement during an interview in 2016 on the then-upcoming 2017 National and LLG elections.
Recently the Electoral Commission welcomed the funding of K100 million but stated that it was not enough to run the LLG elections and they would heavily rely on stakeholders.
The Ombudsman Commission in the statement also said that the deferral did not appear to be Gazetted and requested the Department of Provincial Affairs and Electoral Commission (on 3rd of September last year) for details of the deferral; to date, they state that they have not received any response.
EMTV News reached out for comments from the Electoral Commissioner and was unable to get comments, but have been advised the Electoral Commission is aware of the Ombudsman Commission’s special reference filing.