Papua New Guinea’s struggle to complete its election tells the story of the country’s continuing woes. It is derived from one part corruption, one part inadequate funding, and several parts of the kind of bureaucratic incompetence that mars so many PNG institutions. This year’s election — the ninth since independence from Australia — which in theory finished last Saturday, started quietly with the most low-key campaigning period in living memory — since most candidates simply did not have the money to spend on the colourful electioneering of the past. In 2002, especially in the Southern Highlands, about 100 people died as the election campaign burst into tribal warfare.
This time, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Opposition Leader Don Polye were the only leaders with the resources to run truly nationwide campaigns, and most indications so far point to O’Neill emerging again as the winner.
The rapid ubiquity of mobile phone networks and the scabrous liveliness of PNG’s social media pointed to them serving as the source of a powerful interjection in the election — especially driving antipathy against O’Neill amid claims of corruption — but this does not appear to have happened as anticipated.
Despite the frequent struggle to get to polling stations, with PNG’s remaining infrastructure still so poor that many voters must walk or canoe for long distances, the turnout has again been high, up to 80 per cent in some electorates.
Full Article: Papua New Guinea election leads to indecision.