27 Apr 2012

PNG wary of talk about re-assessing electoral commissioner

2:59 pm on 27 April 2012

The Papua New Guinea opposition leader, Dame Carol Kidu, says she finds talk within the government of removing the electoral commissioner suspect.

The government says the re-appointment of Andrew Trawen in January of 2010 was flawed and needs to be re-assessed.

The prime minister, Peter O'Neill, told Parliament this week that Mr Trawen was allowed to stay on for a second term despite having reached the retirement age of 55, following a process that took less than three minutes.

He says if this is not corrected, there will be serious legal problems before and after the elections.

But Dame Carol, who now sits on the appointments committee, says she has made it clear she does not support removing the electoral commissioner so close to the poll.

"I think if the present government thinks there is some legal flaw they should have found it long ago and done it soon after they were in government and [giving] some time to lead up. To suddenly be scrambling to find a flaw now seems to me to be a little suspect."

Dame Carol Kidu.

While some in the government want elections to be delayed the prime minister has indicated that only the electoral commissioner has the power to change the dates.