The Commonwealth Secretariat will deploy a special Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) to scrutinise Papua New Guinea’s national elections – as the country faces a difficult transition.
The country’s three weeks of voting get underway on July 2.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, has constituted a 10-member group of observers led by the former President of Nauru, H.E. Baron Waqa.
The COG will arrive at the capital Port Moresby on 28 June. During their stay they will be supported by a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Mr Linford Andrews, Head of the Electoral Support Section. The deployment of the COG was preceded by a pre-election assessment team that visited the country in March 2022.
The COG will observe and consider all aspects of the election process, from the opening of polling stations to the voting process to the counting of ballots, and finally to the announcement of results.
The role of the specially constituted commission is to determine whether the elections are conducted in line with the democratic standards of the country, as in the past elections have been accompanied by spikes in violence between rival groups.
“I applaud Papua New Guinea’s resolve and commitment in holding this election, despite the many challenges that come with undertaking an activity of such immense value,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
“As always, the deployment of this observer group demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to supporting electoral democracy in member countries and a recognition of the right of individuals to participate in democratic processes through the credible, inclusive, and transparent elections that shape their societies.”
National elections in Papua New Guinea have already been met with mounting difficulties, especially after the issuing of writs has been postponed following the death of Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil on 11 May.
Adding to the already resource-constrained police forces, Okole Midelit, Teaching Fellow at the University of Papua New Guinea, has predicted that low rates of COVID-19 vaccinations will likely pose a security risk as crowds will gather outside of the polling stations.
Learn More: The Commonwealth Secretariat