Feelings of “anticipation, excitement” first gripped Papua New Guinea as polling opened last month. … But the anticipation and excitement was short-lived and quickly descended into condemnation of the state of the electoral common roll as thousands reported they had not been listed, despite registration, and also disruptions as reported a week later on PMW’s Southern Cross. In Lae, students set fire to ballot papers in protest, while others at Unitech missed out on voting as only 1100 ballot papers arrived for a voting population of 5000. Similar stories were echoed across Papua New Guinea as 4000 to 5000 students in Goroka were denied the chance to cast a ballot.
… Allegations of corruption, calls for resignations, and fears of a dictatorship soon emerged, even as Prime Minister O’Neill shrugged off polling chaos. He told EMTV News the 2017 elections were a “dramatic change” from the previous three due an apparent lack of violence and no “hijacked” electoral process. “I hear comment from election observers that delays like this are common in developing country elections, particularly with remote and rugged terrain and diverse cultures,” O’Neill said.
But O’Neill’s comments did nothing to dissuade Gary Juffa, Oro’s current governor and an opposition candidate in the elections, from expressing his fears Papua New Guinea was heading for a dictatorship.
“We are inching closer to dictatorship and ensuing bloodshed and violence that must come from the hostility towards it. But like lemmings and sheep, we are led to that reality with little resistance at all. Is this the Papua New Guinea we all believed in once upon a time?”
Juffa claimed the elections have been rigged – “deliberately set to fail” – due to fraud and issues at the polls.