5 Apr 2012

PNG parliament controversially rules to delay election by six months

8:44 pm on 5 April 2012

Papua New Guinea's parliament has voted to postpone its national elections for six months and at the same time took a swipe at Australia's foreign minister, Bob Carr.

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

Elections will be suspended for six months from April 27, when writs are scheduled to be issued.

In a speech to parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah warned against foreign intervention following the decision.

He warned the Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who had threatened sanctions if there was a deferral, not to threaten the independent state of PNG.

Mr Namah says Australia must not intrude into the election process.

Earlier yesterday Peter O'Neill said the election would not be suspended, but he later voted for the suspension and did not address parliament.

Mr Namah says the delays must be delayed to allow for the implementation of proper security in the Highlands and because electoral rolls were incomplete.

Parliament has voted to order the Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen to ask Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio for the suspension.

Mr Trawen, however, has consistently challneged public comments from Speaker Jeffery Nape and Mr Namah that the elections could be suspended by parliament, saying the constitution fixes parliament into a strict five-year term and that the nation is ready to go to the polls.

AAP reports that Mr Trawen says he is consulting his lawyers over the direction.