12 Apr 2012

PNG's electoral commissioner approves new election date schedule

4:46 am on 12 April 2012

Papua New Guinea's electoral commissioner has approved a new election schedule, but Speaker Jeffery Nape says the commission must recognise parliament's vote to delay the poll by six months.

Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen on Wednesday issued a revised schedule to the five-yearly electoral program, with the polling set to begin as expected on June 23.

He says the schedule had been approved by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.

But Mr Nape threw up a potential roadblock as he opened Wednesday's parliamentary session.

He says cabinet alone does not have the power to overturn last week's vote to defer the poll by six months and Mr Trawen must obey parliament's order to defer.

He also added the action taken by the electoral commissioner is unlawful.

Mr Nape says he was seeking legal advice over who had the final say on when the country will go to the polls.

The Speaker's statement came about two hours before Mr Trawen's revised schedule was sent to journalists, and less than 24 hours after Prime minister Peter O'Neill backtracked entirely from the vote to delay.

Mr O'Neill, with members of cabinet in tow, told protesters in Port Moresby on Tuesday that elections would go ahead as scheduled.

Mr Trawen agreed to a three week delay for the issue of writs, but said the poll would go ahead as scheduled in late June.