Thousands in PNG’s capital turn out to vote in polls
Wed, 27 Jun 2012 11:30a.m.
By Melissa Martin and Konopa Kana in Port Moresby
Thousands of voters in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District (NCD) went to the polls today in all three open electorates and the regional seat.
The city residents went to their respective polling booths to get their fingers painted to decide on who will be their representatives to Parliament for the next five years. The 144 intending candidates in the nation’s capital had their names chosen in the ballot papers. Twenty-six candidates are challenging Powes Parkop for the Governor’s seat.
In Moresby North East, sitting Member Andrew Mald faces 47 candidates while in Moresby North West it’s anybody’s game for the 38 candidates. In Moresby South, there are 31 candidates vying for the seat. For the first time in PNG, the Electoral Commission has introduced alphabetical systems in Port Moresby. The polling booths were divided into alphabetical order so voters must cast their votes at booths only containing their surnames.
In Moresby North East, 120 polling booths were divided in alphabetical order and voters cast votes according to their surnames listed in each booth. The Electoral Commission has argued that this method is more reliable and safe and avoids double voting. However, there was no public awareness about the system and most people are not aware of this. A voter said polling officials must advise and help the people in the polling booths so that individuals know where to cast their votes. Another voter said unlike any other province, most residents in NCD were working class people and today was a normal work day. It seemed most people would not be available in the polling areas.
The Electoral Commission has already issued notices advising employers to release their workers for a certain period of time for them to exercise their constitutional right by going to the polls to cast their votes. Most business houses in the city were operating with reduced staff but that would not affect the normal operations as today is not a public holiday.
Government offices closed
It is understood most government offices would be closed for polling today. Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry representative Ron Sedon said POMCCI staff would be allowed to vote as the began polling with the rest of the country. Sedon said this did not mean the staff would make this day a public holiday and he was going to make sure that all the POMCCI staff wore their uniforms when going to vote as a reminder that after voting in the morning they were expected to return to work. He said there was no such thing as on a public holiday because business was as usual in the nation’s capital although there would be reduced staff in all business houses but that will only be for one day and hopefully polling lasts for today only and is not prolonged. “I have been in the country and have seen the last seven elections and polling in NCD is done in one day like, take for instance people in Tatana village and settlements around the country will see polling completed quickly,” he said.
Sedon said yesterday it was important that the staff voted but they must do it wisely because complaints arose about the type of leaders who were voted in and did not deliver basic goods and services. When asked by this paper which type of government he wanted, Sedon said he wanted a government that would be able to provide free education and improved health services with better infrastructure and maintain law and order around the country. “PNG is a very rich country and this is not reflected in the living standard of the ordinary citizens of this country. We need to vote for the right leaders who will make these benefits become a reality,” he said.
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