15 May 2007

PNG caretaker Governor says many voters are disenfranchised

10:02 am on 15 May 2007

Malcolm Smith Kela, the caretaker governor of Eastern Highlands province in Papua New Guinea, blames much of the tension in PNG society on vast numbers of people being shut out of parliamentary representation.

He says the system of government imposed on the country, with its 109 seats, excludes around 700 of the country's 818 language groups, or wantoks.

Mr Smith Kela, an Australian who has lived in PNG for more than 30 years and become a PNG citizen, says these people then become agitated because they are excluded from the decision making process.

He says he would like to make changes to the electoral system to give people more say in the system.

"Where the village leaders would automatically become the Council of Chiefs in the area, and they would then nominate people from the district to look after the province, and in turn they would nominate the people who would go to Portb Moresby. I'd do myself out of a job, but so be it. It's their country and I just happen to be a very lucky citizen who came here."