12 Nov 2018

Former MP calls for national ID system before next PNG election

11:01 am on 12 November 2018

A candidate from last year's Papua New Guinea general election is urging the country to adopt a national ID-based voting system before the next poll.

Polling station in Bulolo District, Papua New Guinea national election 2017.

Polling booths for last year's election in PNG Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

De Kewanu, the former MP for Mendi in Southern Highlands, lost his seat in the election to government minister Michael Nali.

However, due to frustrations over irregularities in the election, the province was plagued by bouts of violent unrest well into the middle of this year.

Mr Kewanu said many people were denied a fair vote due to practices such as block voting.

"This thing will get even worse if we don't improve the system by getting an ID registration going. You have an ID card, meaning that you can vote using your card and your finger prints and all that. That would change the election system in the country."

Mr Kewanu's comment comes after an Australian National University report found the election was marred by blatant electoral fraud, malpractice, and unprecedented violence.

The report, based on on records by hundreds of observers at over 900 polling stations, said block voting, coerced collective voting, violence, intimidation and pre-marked ballot papers denied many voters a genuine choice.

Discrepancies in the electoral roll, theft and destruction of ballot boxes, as well as voter bribery, were also widely experienced.

PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill has indicated the government is considering a move away from the Limited Preferential Voting system and back to the 'first past the post' system.

Mr Kewanu said that as long as the method of how people vote was changed to the national ID concept, he would support it. But he wasn't sure that all MPs would want a change.

"And people who have been winning and quietly coming year in year out, election in election out, that have been maintaining those ghosts, and doing block votes, and basically rigging all this time, those kind of MPs wouldn't probably want the process to change."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs