January 25, 2017

PNG's Electoral Commissioner defends decision to print ballot papers in Indonesia

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato says he is not compromising the democracy of the election process, defending the commission's decision to print PNG's 10-million ballot papers in Indonesia.

Gamato said the Electoral Commission is adding six more security features onto three others used in the 2012 election ballot papers.

This is a more improved version with line security features embedded into it.

"For security reasons I cannot disclose any security features but I’m saying it is a more improved one, because in the last ballot paper the 2012 ballot paper there were only two or three security features," Gamato told NBC News.

"We are not compromising the security of this country, the important thing to note is that we have to secure the ballot papers."

In a related development, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has revealed the reduction of the election campaign period from the current eight to four weeks will not be legislated by law.

And he's put the final decision squarely on the Electoral Commissioner to decide,

“We are giving the flexibility and the administrative powers to the Electoral Commissioner and it is entirely up to him whether he maintains it at four weeks or eight weeks," PM O'Neill told journalists at the inaugural NBC Press Club meeting in Port Moresby.

"If he sees that the general conduct of the elections are something that he is having difficulty with managing, then he has to be given the flexibility of making that decision.

"The campaign period is not going to be legislated by law minimizing the number of weeks".

Meantime the Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has been taken to task by the Opposition demanding that he reveal the ownership of the Indonesian company engaged to print the ballot papers.

Opposition Leader Don Polye said there is more to the printing deal than meets the eye, and that the ownership of the company's PNG agent must also be revealed.