Papua New Guinea goes to the polls on Saturday with almost 3,500 candidates battling for just over a hundred parliamentary seats and control of what will be an unprecedented boom in funds as projects to develop natural resources start coming on stream. Voters hope the two-week-long election will end a prolonged political crisis which has left the South Pacific archipelago with two competing prime ministers for much of the past year after parliament backed Peter O’Neill, defying the courts which supported elder statesman Michael Somare. Analysts say it is impossible to predict a winner in a country where more than half of sitting lawmakers lose their seats at each election and where power goes to the leader who can cobble a coalition in post-election negotiations. “There are really two elections,” Australian National University Papua New Guinea specialist Sinclair Dinnen told Reuters. “The first is where the people vote. Then after the elections, we see the process of coalition formulation.” Adding to the uncertainty are the record number of 3,435 candidates from 46 political parties, all vying for just 111 seats in parliament.
Papua New Guinea: Australian help for Papua New Guinea election ‘unprecedented’ | ABC Radio Australia
Australian officials say they are providing an unprecedented level of help to Papua New Guinea as it prepares for this month’s general election. PNG is now gearing up for its general election after a tumultuous year in politics, stemming from the long-running leadership dispute between Peter O’Neill and Sir Michael Somare over who is the legitimate prime minister. But preparing for the election is not a task the country can handle on its own.
Papua New Guinea MPs have voted to declare a state of emergency in the nation’s capital after rogue police officers surrounded Parliament House. If adopted, the emergency rule would give increased powers to PNG’s police commissioner to arrest and detain. The leader of government business, Moses Maladina, put the motion yesterday at a special sitting of Parliament and it is expected to come into force today. The government also voted to reject the decision of three Supreme Court judges to reinstate Sir Michael Somare as the nation’s leader. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said cabinet would meet last night to prepare advice for Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio, who must approve the state of emergency. Mr O’Neill said the state of emergency would be extended to trouble spots such as the Southern Highlands and Hela province, site of a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project.
Papua New Guinea’s government will not try to defer national elections due in June, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says, potentially closing the lid on calls from his deputy to suspend the poll. PNG’s parliament last month raised the idea of suspending the elections for up to 12 months so anti-fraud biometric voting systems could be installed, after it was revealed the electoral roll was only 60 per cent complete. Since then, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah has been a vocal advocate of putting off the elections.