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PRIME Minister, James Marape has called on the Electoral Commissioner to pick Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers from within the Public Service and the churches.

He said this while appealing to all PNG Electoral Commission workers to uphold the integrity of the Commission during their processing of the elections.

The Prime Minister was speaking today in light of the news of a returning officer’s sentencing by Justice Theresa Berrigan to seven years in jail for “corruptly receiving K184,300 to influence the outcome of the elections for NCD seat in the 2017 general election” as reported in today’s The National.

PM Marape said all returning officers, assistant returning officers, presiding officers, counting officials and security personnel must at all times do their jobs and conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity, dignity and decorum from the start to the finish of the National General Elections 2022.

I appeal to them to take their tasks very seriously. This is not about allowances that you are receiving or the possibility of bribery that you might be offered. These is about country first. This is about the important task that you have in protecting the sanctity of the electoral process that the people are given once in every five years, which is their Constitutional right.

“Today’s headline is a reminder that election offence is punishable. We see one former returning officer being jailed for seven years.

“Under my watch, I intend to support and promote the integrity of the elections and their processes. My Government is making the money available to support a free and fair elections. We want the 2022 NGE to be safe and fair.

“We have invited Transparency International and observers into the steering committee for the election planning and so everyone is aware of the prevailing circumstances in which the election is held right around the country.

“I am recommending strongly to the Electoral Commissioner to pick good people for the positions of Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers to be public servants and church workers.

“Church workers are accountable to God and the public servants are accountable to the Government.”

The Prime Minister said many election-related petitions do end up in the Court of Disputed Returns and so those engaging in unscrupulous activities do stand a higher chance of getting caught and punished.

“It is time we eliminate this from the system and allow our people to cast their vote for the leader of their choice. It is their Constitutional right and it is the Electoral Commission’s duty to ensure that this right is translated into a vote.

“Hold yourself in good standing as we support the Electoral Commissioner deliver a safe and fair elections for 2022,” said the Prime Minister.


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