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Return of Writs and end to 2012 National Elections

As you all have witnessed a while ago, I have just returned the Writs for ALL the 89 Open electorates and 18 Provincial electorates to His Excellency the Governor General Sir Michael Ogio.

The date for the return of Writs for Western Highlands, Enga and NCD Provincial electorates has been further extended to next Wednesday 08th August, 2012 which I announced yesterday at the Media Centre.

I have given advice to His Excellency the Governor General yesterday morning and that advice also covers Chimbu, Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands Provincial electorates in case they run out of time with their eliminations.

Fortunately, the Jiwaka Provincial electorate made its declaration at 9:30 this morning with the Writ returned as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Return of Writs ceremony today officially concludes the 2012 National General Elections in this beautiful country of ours, Papua New Guinea.

A lot have been said and done before the Issue of Writs, during polling and counting BUT all these come to an end today – another milestone achieved for democratic elections in PNG.

Many critics have written off the 2012 National General Elections as in 2007 due to a number of factors; the main one being issues surrounding the 2012 Electoral Roll.

Equally, many citizens were confident that the 2012 elections would be successfully conducted.

Despite opposing views, doubts and criticisms coupled with the political impasse, the PNG Electoral Commission remained confident of successfully delivering the 2012 elections regarded as the most crucial elections in the short history of our country.

And off course, we did with the commitment and excellent support of our stakeholders, partners and international friends.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to all those who contribution in one way or another in ensuring the outcome of these elections is successful other than a simply word of thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, a total of 3,443 candidates put their hands up for the 9th Parliament and nominated to contest the 2012 National General Elections.

From the 3,443 candidates a record number of 134 were female candidates compared to 101 in 2007 which is a very encouraging sign that our womenfolk are now actively participating in the democratic electoral process in PNG.

Out of the 134 female candidates that contested the 2012 elections only two (2) women came out winners in the male-dominated field.

Congratulations to our two female Members of Parliament Loujaya Toni – Member-elect for Lae Open and Delilah Pueka Gore – Member-elect for Sohe Open.

Meantime, a total of 2,198 candidates contested the 2012 elections as Independents of which only 15 have won.

From the 1,245 candidates endorsed by the 42 registered political parties 89 of them have won.

Now, looking at the turn-over of Members of Parliament, out of the 107 Seats declared excluding Western Highlands, Enga and NCD Provincial Seats, a total of 67 new Members some of whom are old faces have been elected into the 9th Parliament.

This means that so far only 40 sitting MPs have been re-elected.

In percentage, 63% are new faces in Parliament while 37% are re-elected MPs.

A looking at the performances of individual political parties in the 2012 elections…

It is now evident that the Political Party that has now secured most Members is the People’s National Congress Party with 27 so far equaling the record set by National Alliance Party in the 2007 elections.

Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party secured the second highest numbers of 11 Seats.

The others political parties that won seats include:
• PNG Party 8
• National Alliance and United Resources Party 7 each
• People’s Progress Party 6
• People’s Party 4 and
• Coalition for Reform Party, Melanesian Liberal Party, People’s United Assembly Party, Social Democratic Party, New Generation Party and People’s Movement For Change Party have 2 Members each.

Political Parties that have only one (1) winning candidate include Indigenous People’s Party, Our Development Party, Pangu, PNG Constitutional Democratic Party, PNG Country Party, People’s Democratic Movement, Stars Alliance Party and United Party.

Ladies and gentlemen, you may ask: How much did it cost to conduct such a massive exercise?

The PNG Electoral Commission had submitted a budget of K240 million which identified all requirements to pay for the costs associated with preparing for and conducting the 2012 National Parliament Elections.

Initially, the Commission was only appropriated K180 million leaving a funding shortfall of K60 million. However, the National Government appropriated additional funding of K10 million last month to meet the shortfalls.

This has forced the Commission to do away with electronic verification of ballots as it was not able to purchase all necessary electronic equipment required to do electronic counting nationwide.

And this was one of contributing factors in the slow progress and conclusion of counting nationwide resulting in the late return of Writs.

As the Electoral Commissioner, I must thank and congratulate you the people of Papua New Guinea for ensuring that the outcome of these elections is successful from campaigning to counting and the eventual declaration of results.

At this juncture I would like to acknowledge stakeholders that have worked in collaboration with the PNG Electoral Commission in the successful delivery of the 2012 elections.

Firstly, the immense support of our three (3) disciplined forces – Police, Defence and Correctional Services – for their undivided support, commitment and high level of professionalism in providing election security for polling teams, ballot boxes, election officials, counting officials and counting centers.

To the Joint Task Force Command Post based in Mt. Hagen and all security personnel deployed for election 2012 security operations, thank you for a job well done and I salute you all.

Further, I would like to express my greatest and deepest appreciation to our international friends for their invaluable support to PNG in staging this national event.

Firstly, I would like to thank are our closest neighbors – Australia and Zealand.

The invaluable assistance from Australia and New Zealand in providing the much needed logistical support and personnel, especially the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Zealand Air Force for the 6 helicopters, the C130s, C17 and King Air aircraft went a long way in transporting polling teams, election materials and security personnel.

Bad weather conditions, unfortunately, played havoc and have been the major cause of delays in polling in most electorates throughout the country.

I would also like to sincerely thank the Government and people of Great Britain for their valuable assistance in providing funding to the tune of 300,000 British Pounds (PGK500,000) for the PNGEC Media Centre where I have been holding me regular media briefings during the elections.

The Republic of Korea also assisted by purchasing and supplying some 30 computers to the PNGEC and I also acknowledge their contribution.

Despite minor hiccups in certain electorates, I am pleased indeed to inform you all that the general outcome of the 2012 National General Elections has been very successful.

The theme for the 2012 elections is FREE, FAIR and SAFE elections. And for sure these elections did not fail or aborted; they have been successfully completed.

PNGEC’s Information and Community Awareness Branch with funding support from AusAID’s Electoral Support Program conducted massive voter information and education as well as civic awareness exercise via all mediums throughout the country in collaboration with almost 100 Civil Society Organizations.

The results of these awareness exercises indicate that the level of voter education and behavior has steadily increased from the 2007 elections and we hope to see more improvement in the next elections in 2017.

Last but not the least, I would like thank you media for your tireless efforts in keeping the nation and our international neighbors informed about election 2012 from the Issue of Writs on May 18th to the Return of Writs today Wednesday 01st August 2012.

I commend you all as stakeholders in these elections for a job well done in your media coverage.

Ladies and gentlemen, that brings to conclusion my media briefing for this afternoon at the Return of Writs ceremony which officially concluded the 2012 National General Elections in Papua New Guinea.