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Violence, voting fraud to blight 2022 election

The 2022 election is shaping up to be the most violent ever despite the government purchasing armoured vehicles, imposing a ban on the 50,000 illegal firearms in the country and support from the Australian Defence Force

Election - Men queue to vote at a Highlands election (Treva Braun)
Men queue to vote at a Highlands election (Treva Braun)


NOOSA - The shooting of a returning officer, 30 other deaths in electoral violence, candidates’ supporters burning rivals’ vehicles and other violence have already marred Papua New Guinea’s upcoming general elections.

In a pointed article for the Asia & the Pacific Policy Society, academics Henry Ivarature and Michael Kabuni have expressed fears that the elections due to start on Tuesday 2 July are shaping up to be as bad as what was said to be “the worst one ever” in 2017

A comprehensive study of the 2017 elections found that there were at least 204 associated deaths and hundreds of people seriously injured or maimed.

The study by the Australian National University was based on reports from 258 independent election observers at 945 polling stations around PNG.

“The elections were marred by widespread fraud and malpractice, and extensive vote rigging,” said associate professor Nicole Haley, the lead author of the study.

Ivarature and Kabuni write that the 2022 election is shaping up to offer more of the same, despite the government purchasing armoured vehicles and introducing a new gun control law to try to reduce the estimated 50,000 illegal firearms in the country.

“Policing the elections has always been difficult and the support of the Australian Defence Forces is a welcome contribution to public safety,” they said.

“The PNG police force needs this support, it is chronically underfunded and severely lacking in manpower, with only one officer for every 1,145 people.”

This is the sixth worst ratio in the world.

Beyond violence, the writers say, the election is also likely to be marred by controversy because the government has not implemented crucial reforms recommended by the Commonwealth Observer Group and the Australian National University five years ago.

These were to update electoral laws, improve electoral procedures, clarify electoral boundaries and register voters.

“Missing just one of these stages affects the rest of the electoral process,” they say.

A key recommendation called on the government to release funds to the PNG Electoral Commission to register voters and update its electoral rolls.

“In 2017, thousands of eligible voters could not vote due to faulty electoral rolls,” Ivarature and Kabuni wrote. “Updating the roll only began in January 2022.

“In March, when the writs were about to be issued, one MP claimed possibly over 500,000 eligible voters were not listed. At the time of writing, it is not clear if the update has been completed.

“The lack of a national census has made effectively updating the roll even more difficult, with the most recent census postponed to 2024.

“Without this information, expect problems of ballot paper shortage or over-supply in many constituencies.

“This is critical in election management, particularly for the printing and distribution of ballot papers throughout the country,” they wrote.

They also point out that the government’s last-minute decision to create seven new electorates in mid-April is likely to compound this issue further.

The government made this decision after ballot papers were printed and tens of thousands of ballot papers had to be destroyed and new ones printed covering the seven new electorates and existing electorates where boundaries had been changed.

The boundary changes were made on the basis of the 2001 census which is considered inaccurate and unreliable, and the Opposition has asked the Supreme Court to declare the recent changes unconstitutional and invalid.

“If the Supreme Court determines it to be so, then the seven MPs from the new constituencies will automatically be disqualified from parliament,” write Ivarature and Kabuni.

“Moreover, a recent Supreme Court ruling disqualifying candidates with criminal offences after 2002 could create a backlog for the courts and slow the democratic process.”


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Arthur Williams

I found in National newspaper from Jan 1st to Dec 31st 2017 the total reported deaths before the Courts were 343 for the year of which 55 Election apparently related. Stop inflating Death figures that are merely human failings
A drunken student trying to steal from a street vendor June 19th is not an Election Related.
Just as the June 12th tragic road ACCIDENT occurred' with truck going off the road killed 16 which media calls 'Election related'
The ANU report on the 2017 looks like it may have done a similar thing suggesting over 300 died due to that year’s Election. It appears to have added almost any deaths during campaign and counting which actually were caused by inter-clan or tribal land disputes that began many years before the election. Many deaths were by drunks.

It is crazy to suggest that if Mr, XXX dies on the way to a rugby match his death is a 'Sport Related Death' rather than a traffic accident death. Or a PMV loaded with people going to a Church Convention is a 'Religious Related Death'

As to fraud E Sepik Governor Bird wrote on June 21st a very good article here about alleged bribery etc .

"Stop inflating Death figures that are merely human failings"

"The ANU report on the 2017 looks like it may have done a similar thing suggesting over 300 died due to that year’s Election. It appears to have added almost any deaths...."

Not for the first time, I've gone to the record to check Arthur's assertions, which I wish he had done himself before rushing into print with misleading information - KJ

Relevant extracts from the ANU 2017 Papua New Guinea General Elections Observation Report of November 2018


"For the past two decades, elections in PNG’s Highlands provinces have been characterised by high levels of violence and insecurity. Such violence and insecurity has progressively extended into other parts of the country.

"The 2017 elections saw just over 200 election-related deaths (i.e. deaths attributed to violence catalysed by the election),41 countless citizens seriously injured, widespread election-related violence and large-scale destruction of property, which the security personnel were unable to prevent."

FOOTNOTE 41 p107

The ANU observation team documented 204-election related deaths. Of these, two thirds (133 deaths) were also reported in the media, many times more than were reported in relation to 2007 or 2012 elections. It is acknowledged that some of these deaths may, in part, be attributable to longstanding grievances and tribal conflicts exacerbated or catalysed by the elections."

Link to the Report here: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

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