PAPUA New Guinea’s deputy opposition leader Sam Basil has said he is “gravely concerned” at government action to delay and change conditions around this year’s national elections due in May.
Mr Basil has also questioned the role of electoral commissioner Patilus Gamato in independently overseeing the success of the elections.
“Mr Gamato must be able to explain his advice to the National Executive Council that provided the inspiration for these major proposed changes to election laws,” he said.
“The changes will have the effect of excluding many viable intending candidates interested in contesting the limited number of provincial and open seats in parliament.
“Unless a future parliament has the numbers to reverse such limiting provisions, PNG can no longer call itself a vibrant democracy.”
Mr Basil said PNG’s electoral calendar must not be politically engineered to undermine the constitutional guarantee of free and fair general elections.
He cautioned citizens to be wary of the proposed amendments to election laws that will have the effect of influencing the rights and choices of voters and the outcome of the elections.
Mr Basil is strongly urging Papua New Guineans to get involved and understand the importance of parliamentary processes.
“Parliament is the arm of government that enacts the laws that the people must live with, therefore we must all ensure that all MPs are voting to support laws for the greater good,” he said.
Mr Basil told reporters that the majority of government MPs have been given ‘sweeteners’ to vote for the passage of bills that they don’t understand or care about.
“Those government MPs are only interested in their own cut of already depleted public funds and not the broader implications of the laws they vote to enact and amend,” he said.
“I want to say that the rampant abuse and mismanagement of public funds by the O’Neill-Dion government has had the effect of bankrupting PNG.
“Therefore, we can see the impact of this shameful negligence now on our constitutional offices, government departments and agencies that are failing to carry out their lawful duties.
“The main problem is the O’Neill government has recklessly spent public funds that should have been managed and allocated to cater for the State’s operations and expenses.
“Instead, the O’Neill regime has paid for their own excessive lifestyles first before worrying about the development and future of our great nation.”