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Papua New Guinea

Voters set fire to ballot boxes across PNG

Election violence continues in Papua New Guinea and the electoral roll has become the main cause for it.

Reports have emerged from PNG that angry voters have set fire to ballot boxes and ballot papers after finding that their names were not on the electoral roll or there were not enough ballot papers.

The incidents happened in East Sepik Province and in Hela. Such incidents have been reported all over PNG. In some cases voters have returned home while others have caused havoc.

In the National Capital District where Port Moresby is, voting has been deferred by the electoral commissioner Simon Sinai.

This was done after concerns were raised by candidates on the electoral roll. While this was being announced, PNG police told the 1200 police reservists in the capital area to stay in position.

A stern warning was issued to them saying they risk being arrested themselves if they move from their posts.

In East New Britain, youths boycotted voting and urged others not to vote as well. This was followed by a warning from the PNG Police urging the youths not to disrupt voting.

Students of Simbu Lutheran Day Secondary are listening to the speakers encouraging people of Simbu of a violence free, fair, and peaceful election. Picture: Royal PNG Constabulary

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission has told electorates which have completed polling that they should start the counting process straightaway.

Mr Sinai said there should not be any delay as they must meet the July 29 deadline for the return of writs.

“As long as they have organised themselves with counting materials, sorted out channels, polling boxes and completed the presiding officers’ reports, they should be ready to start counting,” he told media in PNG.

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Police commissioner David Manning has once again appealed to the people of PNG for their cooperation in making this election free, fair, safe and corruption free.

“It is the mission of the members of the security forces to ensure we have a free, fair, safe and corruption free National General Elections 2022. But this responsibility is not solely ours alone but for every citizen of Papua New Guinea,” Mr Manning said.

He said the three disciplined forces, police, military and correction service had a long, proud and shared history.

Mr Manning said the election remains the largest single internal security effort in the country’s political cycle that requires everyone’s undivided attention, loyalty, commitment and professionalism.

“We must ensure that every single person, our women, our elderly, those living with disabilities, those living in the cities, in the villages and to the remotest communities in all regions of our country, who can legally vote, must be given the equal opportunity to freely and fairly do so,” he said.

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