5 Apr 2012

PNG parliament defers election by six months

7:58 pm on 5 April 2012

The parliament of Papua New Guinea has voted to postpone the national elections for six months.

The vote passed the house 63 to 11 following a 90-minute debate.

This comes after a recommendation by the minister assisting the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill on electoral issues, Waka Goi.

Mr Goi said the budget shortfall for the election was about 30 million US dollars and the electoral rolls were not ready for public inspection.

He also said security planning was not in order yet.

Mr O'Neill has previously stated he wants a full, free, fair and on-time election.

The electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen says the government does not have the power to suspend elections because the constitution lays out a strict five-year parliamentary timetable.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Titi Gabi, says as recently as Wednesday the Prime Minister was on local radio saying only Mr Trawen had the authority to delay the poll.

But she says that has now changed.

"So already there's people very unhappy about it, expressing themselves on facebook and emails, and what have you, but there is no initial reaction. Yes we know that it is the Electoral Commissioner to make the decision, but that's changed now."