Covid-19 continues Bougainville election date delay

3:30 pm on 22 April 2020

The controller of the Bougainville State of Emergency, with medical personnel and the Electoral Commissioner, will set the region's election date.

The autonomous region in Papua New Guinea was due to go to elections in June but that is looking increasingly unlikely, with President John Momis saying a poll in August or September was now possible.

Bougainville's Covid-19 State of Emergency will extend into June and the officials overseeing it are to decide when it will be medically safe for people to campaign and vote.

Bougainville President John Momis

Bougainville President John Momis Photo: supplied

Mr Momis said MPs had this week changed the State of Emergency Act to allow this to happen, and he said they could give the go-ahead within the state of emergency period.

"The controller, in consultation with the health officials and the electoral commissioner, will determine whether there should be some relaxation of the strict state of emergency orders, that will allow us to have the election under staff medical conditions," he said.

The president said the vote could be as late as September but he said the officials needed to assess when it was safe for people to move around.

He said the strict social distancing now applying in Bougainville is vital.

"Because we don't have the facilities, we don't have the PPE's, [Personal Protective Equipment] we don't have the ICU wards and stuff like that, so the best thing we can try to do is stop the pandemic from coming to Bougainville. Fortunately we haven't got any [cases] yet."