Hela Governor warns of failed election

9:31 am on 7 July 2017
Indelible ink is used at a polling booth in Papua New Guinea's national election.

Indelible ink is used at a polling booth in Papua New Guinea's national election. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The incumbent Governor of Papua New Guinea's Hela province says the 2017 national election is shaping up as a failed one.

Counting is underway in Hela's electorates, where Francis Potape is locked in a battle for the regional seat with Philip Undialu of the ruling People's National Congress party.

Mr Potape claims many Hela voters have not been able to vote, due to their names being missing from the roll, or ballot box mis-distribution.

He said in many cases ballot papers were hijacked and marked by presiding officers or polling officers trying to manipulate the result.

"Almost sixty to seventy percent of the people didn't vote. So many of us are of the view that the election has actually failed."

"So what the counting officers are trying to count are really the ballot papers signed in by the presiding officers, polling team, preferring for some candidates. And those candidates would be the ones who say that polling actually went alright," he said.

In another Hela seat, the Finance Minister James Marape looks on course for a victory in Tari Open.

Meanwhile, Sam Koim, the former head of Investigation Task Force Sweep and currently a Visiting Fellow at the Development Policy Centre has looked at this issue of so-called failed elections.

He writes: Many were asking whether the discrepancies in the common roll constitute grounds for declaring the elections 'failed'. Section 97 (2) of the OLNLLGE [Organic Law on National and Local-Level Government Elections] provides two grounds for the Electoral Commissioner to do that, and electoral roll discrepancies is not one of them.

In circumstances where no candidate is nominated, or where no candidate is returned as elected, the Commissioner can make that call, Mr Koim said.

This provision is designed to address instances on an electorate-by-electorate basis, not for blanket decisions covering an entire election, although such was the case in the last local level government elections. So the Electoral Commissioner's powers are limited to those two determinants, he said.