Thursday, September 19, 2019

2nd mentoring session for 2019

By William Garena
The Mentoring Approach is a new initiative and is one of two flagship programs identified in the Registry’s Corporate Plan 2018-2022. The mentoring approach entails a series of quarterly sessions which began in November 2018 and will continue to 2021. The aim of the sessions is to build the capacity of party executives where designated staffs of the Registry will act as mentors in mentoring and coaching party executives about some basic knowledge of what political parties are, and what their responsibilities are as executives. The sessions take an interactive approach between mentors and executives of political parties and target Presidents and General-Secretaries of political parties. The 2019 second quarterly mentoring session took place at the Registry’s Bengo Conference Centre in Port Moresby from 19th – 21st March 2019. From the 45 registered political parties only 9 parties attended the second quarterly mentoring session. Political parties that attended included: United Resources Party (URP); Papua New Guinea National Party (PNGNP); Papua and Niu Guinea Union Party (PANGU Party); Papua New Guinea Party (PNG Party); Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party (T.H.E Party); Grassroots United Front Party (G.R.U.F Party); and Papua New Guinea Greens Party (PNG Greens Party). Only two parties without Members of Parliament (i.e. G.R.U.F Party and PNG Greens Party) attended while the remaining seven parties had Members in Parliament.
For this quarter’s mentoring session, political parties were expected to give feedback on critical areas related mostly to the general administration of parties and their daily operations. These critical areas included: 2019 LLG Election preparations; Membership Recruitment and Membership fees; Party Conventions after the 2017 National Elections; 2019 Annual Activity Plan; and Support to Women. Also mentors took time to update party executives on important ongoing activities by the Registry such as the status of the revised OLIPPAC, entitlements for General-Secretaries and the Training Manual for party executives.
Throughout the session it was noted that most political parties did not plan to put up candidates for the 2019 LLG Elections. This was due to the lack of fundraising initiatives by parties to raise enough funds to support their LLG election preparations. The financial challenges experienced by most parties also prevented them to conduct awareness throughout the country in making themselves and their party policies known to the people. Another factor that contributed to the lack of focus in preparing for the LLG elections especially for parties with MPs, was the anxiety and uncertainty of the political climate during the vote of no-confidence period. Some issues raised by some party executives during the mentoring session related to the movement of MPs between different political parties, and financial support to maintain their respective party’s daily operations.
The Third Quarter Mentoring Session for 2019 will continue in September at Port Moresby, Bengo Conference Centre. It is hoped that all registered political parties are expected to attend and take ownership of this wonderful initiative provided by the Registry, in promoting and strengthening political parties and democracy in the country.

2019 LLG Elections Observations by the Registry

By Emmanuel Pok
In every LLG elections, the Registry together with other stakeholders conduct an important exercise known as the 'election observation'. In this activity we form special teams to observe the participation of political parties, candidates, voters, supporters and citizens during the campaign, voting and the counting periods. Reports from the election observation teams informs us of the behavior and the way interested groups participate in the elections. Observing the elections thoroughly informs us as policy makers to make informed policy decisions on improving our electoral system.
The Registry's primary role is to ensure that political parties and candidates are well prepared to participate in both the National and Local Level Government elections. The Registry has invested in political parties in the past years to strengthen political parties and preparing them to participate meaningfully in elections. The 2019 Local LLG election was an opportunity where parties could participate and make known of their policies to the voters and also to recruit members to their parties. That was also an opportune time for the Registry to monitor the performance of political parties and their candidates at the very local level and our communities, and make an evaluation that will shape and influence our future work with them. The 2019 LLG Elections was an important election we observed, as it informed us on necessary improvements needed in our electoral laws, voting system and the democratic processes involved in that election. Observation Teams The Registry has initially planned to observe at least three randomly selected LLGs in two provinces of each of the four regions of PNG. However, due to budget shortfalls and other logistical matters, the Registry was able to observe elections in the following LLGs; Region Province District LLG Highlands Western Highlands Hagen, Mul Byier, Tambul Nebliyer Hagen Rural, Hagen Urban, Neblier, Mul Southern Milne Bay Alotau Huhu   Central Kairuku Hiri Kairuku   Oro Soe/Ivijitari Popondetta Urban/Higaturu   Gulf Kerema Malalaua NGI New Ireland Namatanai Namatanai   ENB Rabaul, Gazelle Rabaul Urban, Toma Vuna Didir Momase Madang Madang Madang Urban, Trans Gogol
 Team members were out in the LLGs mainly during campaign periods, as this is the period where parties would freely communicate with their people and campaign for their candidates. A set of questionnaire was prepared and used by all the teams, these were mostly around the participation of the political parties and the participation by women candidates. Individual teams have compiled a detailed report with key observation findings of each LLG they observed. These reports will be compiled into a single report that will be distributed amongst the stakeholders. Some of the mail highlights of the observation are: Political Party presence is yet to be felt at the local level where majority of the population is in the country. Many of the contestants said they were not approached by a political party to contest the seat under a party banner A good number of women were interested to contest the LLG elections, as they believed that this is where they could have a voice. Many were not financial members of a political party. People have a perception that political parties are there to contest the National elections and not for the local level. Observing the LLG election was important because it would provide the Registry the necessary information it needs on the participation of the political parties. It has been stressed to the parties that they need to grow their roots at the village and community level. Their participation at the LLG election is therefore critical for their long term existence as political organizations

Asia Pacific Campaign Forum

By Madeline Saga
A Two day campaign forum conducted by the Australian Labor International was held in Cairns on June 4th and 5th 2019. The purpose of the forum was to gauge views and share experiences of the current political situations and issues of each participating country. A total of 26 participants took part in this event from countries within the Asia Pacific region namely India, Timor Leste, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Indonesia and Australia. The majority of the participants represented political parties or regulatory organisations such as the Registry of Political Parties.
Elias Hallaj the International Projects officer from the Australian Labor International (ALI) began the first day of the forum by presenting an over view of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and ALI. Each participating country was then given the opportunity to present a summary about their country history and political framework. The assistant national secretary of the ALP, Paul Erickson presented an analysis of the Australian Federal Election followed by Senator Clare Moore who shared her experiences on networking, mentoring and safety valves as a candidate. Participants were also given a greater understanding of the Indonesian electoral voting system and its political party system presented by Ms. Sondang Tampubolonn of the Nesdem Party of Indonesia.
The Registrar Dr Alphonse Gelu began the second day of the forum presenting his paper on building party profiles and party visibility. Elias Hallaj and Paul Erickson then presented with an open forum for discussion on “What makes a Healthy Campaign?” Dr Lesley Clark presented a session on Successful Candidates – learning from and supporting winners. She also shared this session with Dianna Lacy of the New Zealand Labour Party. Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union gave a detained presentation about the Benefits of Training and the Role of Trade Unions respectively and invited participants for an open discussion on these two topics.
The two day forum helped the Registry identify a number of issues that were of significance to both political parties and their candidates here in Papua New Guinea. This included; The Registry to propose mentoring or advice to new Members of Parliament (MP) after the elections through their political parties Create a group for women in politics Keeping track of women candidates, past and intending candidates Invitation to women to include incentive/ fee/ funding Senior members of Parliament to provide mentoring to new MP’s Registry to encourage Political parties for the formation of Parliamentary women’s caucus Annually practice parliament pre-training Encourage Political parties to ensure clear demarcation of Parliamentary leaders and party executives The Registry was also invited to make two separate presentations regarding the party system in PNG and issues surrounding women candidates during the elections. The training was informative for the Registry as it helped identify key areas in terms of party support to women candidates before the elections that need to be addressed. But, most importantly the engagement of parties and their executives with their members and intending candidates. The Registry will announce a similar training to be held in Port Moresby later in the year.

Nationwide Consultation on Organic Law

By Solomon Puana
A Nationwide Consultation of the Revised Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) was conducted from the 20th May to 15th July 2019. The revised OLIPPAC Consultation was conducted by the staff of the Registry of Political Parties which was led by the Registrar, Dr Alphonse Gelu. The staff were put into eight teams and were sent out to the selected provinces to conduct the Revised OLIPPAC Consultations. The consultations were held in two provinces per region. The consultation team were in the provinces on the following dates: ELECTORATES/PROVINCE CONSULTATION DATES MT HAGEN, WESTERN HIGHLANDS 20th – 25th MAY, 2019 SOUTH WAGHI, JIWAKA PROVINCE 26th – 30th MAY, 2019 KOKOPO, EAST NEW BRITAIN 20th – 27th MAY, 2019 KAVIENG,NEW IRELAND 20th – 27th MAY, 2019 MADANG, MADANG PROVINCE 04th – 14th JUNE, 2019 LAE, MOROBE PROVINCE 03rd – 11th JUNE, 2019 ALOTAU, MILNE BAY PROVINCE 17th – 24th JUNE, 2019 RIGO & BEREINA CENTRAL PROVINCE 08th – 15th JULY, 2019 The consultation was conducted in the form of public forums and meetings which the teams met with two groups of people. The first one was the target groups which comprised mostly of the Provincial Administration or the Provincial Management Team (PMT) and the Civil Society and interest groups which included (Women, Youths, and people with special needs (disabilities), LLG ward Councilors and Presidents and the general public). The second one was the focus groups mostly students from the Secondary Schools (especially Grade Twelves’) and the Tertiary Institutions such as the Universities and Colleges.
The aim of the consultation was for the Registry of Political Parties to engage with the people and inform the people about the OLIPPAC, collect information and their views on the proposed changes of the revised OLIPPAC. Of importance in the consultations, was for the Registry to seek and analyze the views based on the 21 Terms of References (ToRs) to finalize the revised OLIPPAC that reflects or accommodates the views of the people.
The 21 ToRs included: Membership of Political Parties; Salaries and Terms and Conditions of Executives of Political Parties; Establishment of Political Party Offices; Constitution and Agreements by Political Parties; Political Party Policies and Structures; Political Party Disputes; Dissolution and Re-registration of a Political Party; Women Representation and Quota; Eligibility Criteria; Political Party Conventions; Political Party to Candidates; Double Endorsements; Expulsion and Resignation of a Member of a Political Party; Party Leadership; Advise on Formation of Government; Interference with Member of Parliament; Funding to Opposition; Annual Funding to Political Parties; Disclosure of Political Party Fundraising Activities, Annual Returns and Election Returns; and Other matters and issues relating to Political Parties not covered in the ToRs.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Public Consultation on the revised Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC).

The Supreme Court in 2010 nullified 10 provisions of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC). The Registry of Political Parties began work on the Revised OLIPPAC in 2013. In 2014 the Revised OLIPPAC was approved by NEC but was not tabled in Parliament for debate and approval.

To renew the process of approving the Revised OLIPPAC, the Registry will be now conducting a public consultation to get the views of the general public on the Revised OLIPPAC.

A Terms of Reference (ToR) will be made available to the Stakeholders during the consultation.

The consultation team will be in the provinces on the following dates:

ELECTORATES/PROVINCE
CONSULTATION DATES
MT HAGEN, WHP
20th  to 25th May , 2019
SOUTH WAGHI, JIWAKA PROVINCE
26th  to 30th May , 2019
MADANG, MADANG PROVINCE
20th  to 27th May, 2019
LAE, MOROBE PROVINCE
20th  to 27th May, 2019
KOKOPO, EAST NEW BRITAIN
21st   to 31st May, 2019
KAVIENG,NEW IRELAND
20th  to 27th May, 2019
ALOTAU, MILNE BAY PROVINCE
20th  to 27th May, 2019
RIGO & BEREINA, CENTRAL PROVINCE
11th  to 16th June, 2019


The consultation will be in a form of Public Forums. The general public and the respective stakeholders from the above provinces are encouraged to take note of the schedule and avail yourselves in the given dates to express yours views and concerns freely to the consultation team.

For further explanation on the proposed amendments or changes, do not hesitate to contact the Registry of Political Parties via the address below. The general public including women, youths, students and other interested individuals, groups and organisation are also encouraged to make known your views and suggestions on all or specific areas of interest through written submissions and comments on the same address.

Authorized by
Registrar
Dr Alphonse Gelu

Sunday, April 7, 2019

ANU Launches 2017 Observation Election Report

By Solomon Puana
The ANU Observation Report on the 2017 Papua New Guinea General Elections was officially launched on the 26th March 2019, in the New Lecture Theatre at University of Papua New Guinea. The Registrar, Dr. Alphonse Gelu and three of his staff namely Ms. Madeline Saga, Mr. William Garena and Mr. Solomon Puana attended the launching of the ANU observation report.

The Registrar was part of the panel discussions with Dr. Nicole Haley (who is ANU’s Team Leader through the Department of Pacific Affairs), Dr. Joseph Ketan and Ms. Ariana Kassman from Transparency International (TI) PNG to provide comments in responding to the key findings presented by Dr. Haley. The key findings highlighted in the presentation gave an indication that the recent 2017 National General Elections was a failed election due to the fact that the entire electoral process from the voter registration to polling and to counting was compromised by a widespread of electoral fraud, irregularities and election related violence.  

However, the presentation also highlighted recommendations that need to be taken on board to address the issues and problems faced during the elections and this included:

·   A need for continued robust observation of forthcoming elections so that it helps to establish a strong culture of citizen accountability;

·   Given the levels of distrust that now prevail, key electoral personnel must be recruited on the basis of merit, appointed earlier in the election cycle, properly trained and supported, and held accountable for their actions;

·    Local efforts adopted to enhance trust in electoral processes should not be discouraged, and should possibly be adopted more widely, for example by having scrutineers or candidates sign the outside of ballot boxes before polling teams are inserted;

·   Development of a brand new electoral roll is again warranted;

·  Establishment and maintenance of a new electoral roll would be greatly facilitated by the immediate establishment of a permanent roving enrolment team within the PNGEC;

·   In order to provide the integrity of the electoral roll, all citizens must be provided with genuine opportunity to actively participate in the voter registration, verification and roll cleansing exercises when they occur;

·   Inequalities arising from the presence electoral boundaries need to be addressed to ensure equal representation for all citizens;

·   Greater effort is required to safeguard the franchises of urban settlers;

·   The PNGEC needs to ensure greater consistency and discernment in relation to wards with large enrolments and in relation to the number of voters to be processed in a single day at any one polling station;

·  One-day polling as presently employed should be abandoned due to its unworkability or strengthened through the establishment of more polling teams and polling stations;

·   Electoral and civic awareness, and voter education involving civil society, needs to be prioritised and funded throughout the election cycle to ensure widespread coverage;

·  All public awareness activities should cease prior to the issue of writs, in order to prevent manipulation and co-option by candidates;

·  Training continues to be important and needs to be given priority in the lead up to the 2022 elections;

·   Electoral officials and security personnel deployed to remote districts need reliable and effective means of communication;

·   The role, responsibilities and remit of PECs vis-à-vis those of key electoral officials;

·   The role of the security forces in election needs to be clearly established through ongoing training;

·   Funding for the security operations must be released in a timely manner;

·   The timing and manner in which security personnel are deployed requires significant reflection in the wake of the 2017 elections;

·   Greater effort should be made to prosecute cases involving election offences such as treating and bribery, and those involving other criminal wrongdoing, during the election period;

·  The role and mandate of the Elections Advisory Committee should be clarified, and members provided with clear guidance on the circumstances under which elections might be failed;

·   The PNGEC is encouraged to adopt formal accreditation procedures for scrutineers to minimise the risk of unnecessary delays in counting rooms;

·   A dedicated, through and comprehensive count-training package should be provided to counting officials, in the event that LPV is retained for the 2022 elections;

·  The power to declare elections should be removed from ROs and vested in the Electoral Commissioner alone. Declarations should only be made after the full results have been supplied and verified at PNGEC headquarters in Port Moresby;

·   Greater participation on the part of women in PNG’s political processes needs to be encouraged;

·  Continue establishing separate polling stations in urban areas for people with disabilities; and especially procedures to ensure that they are given priority at all other polling booths.

The Registry also launched its 2017 Election Observation Report in 2018 and is available on our website for download. (www.ippcc.gov.pg). Hardcopies can be obtained from the office for a reasonable fee at our office.






Electoral Law Review update

By William Garena

The various issues encountered during the 2017 National Elections prompted the Government to address these concerns by directing the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) as the lead state agency together with other key state agencies, to inquire into the workings of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections and related laws and systems...... The IPPCC is a key partner with the CLRC and forms part of the External Secretariat who were tasked through a Constitutional Directive to undertake the review of the Organic Law on Elections and related electoral laws and systems. The work of the Review commenced with its official launching on 12th June 2018 in Port Moresby by the Prime Minister, Honorable Peter O’Neil.

The review is guided by thirteen (13) Terms of References (ToR) which forms the basis of enquiry through a nation-wide consultation. The 13 ToRs include; The Electoral System (ToR 1), The Voting System (ToR 2), The Electoral Boundaries (ToR 3), Women and Special Interest Representation in Parliament (ToR 4), Nomination Fees (ToR 5), Eligibility for Nomination (ToR 6), Election Petitions Filing Fees and Periods of Filing (Tor 7), Voter Identification System (ToR 8), Local-level Government Elections (ToR 9), Electoral Offences (ToR 10), The Powers, Functions and Composition of Electoral Commissioners (ToR 11), Decentralization of Election Responsibilities (ToR 12) and Any other things you wish to say regarding Elections and Election Laws (ToR 13).

All provinces under NGI region, Momase region, parts of Highlands region (Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Chimbu and Jiwaka), Central and Gulf provinces were visited. The remaining provinces for Southern region and Highlands region will complete the last phase of the nation-wide consultations in the last week of November 2018. Over 23 written submissions were received while more than 2000 questionnaires were collected from tertiary institutions, secondary schools and participants during the consultations.

The level of participation was good in all four Highlands provinces. For the NGI provinces the level of participation was generally good as well. However in Morobe province the level of participation was very disappointing due to poor turnout from the public, political leaders and provincial administration officials. The level of participation in Central and Gulf provinces was also good.

In terms of the general reactions towards the consultations, the people in the provinces were generally happy to give their views. They were quite happy to be given the opportunity to have their say however, people expressed concerns that if the Government was serious about the review, the recommendations of the report must be implemented before 2022 National elections.

A good number of views were expressed by participants during the consultations throughout the provincial visits in which some participants were very animated, while others expressed disappointment and frustration over the general conduct of the elections. Below are highlights of some dominant views captured as per the 13 ToRs during the consultations: Most people spoke in favour of the establishment of the biometric voter registration and the usage of the National Identification system to effectively authenticate the electoral roll to improve roll management and voter registration:

In terms of the voting system, LPV to continue for another two or three elections to allow the system to mature before changes can be made. Others wanted First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) because it is simple and easy to use as it gives only one leader.  
The period of polling would depend very much on the topography and accessibility of polling location and venue. Urban areas should be allocated one day of polling while geographically challenged areas should consist of 7 days of polling. If electronic system of voting is to be used, then the period of polling and counting should be reduced to 2 – 3 days. 
The issue of electoral boundaries attracted a lot of attention with many people arguing for electorates to be split based on cultural and linguistic grounds. Electoral boundaries to be divided on the basis of access to goods and services delivery, land and sea area, and population size. 
Generally most views raised favored more women in parliament, but the only issue was how they would get into parliament. Some speakers wanted women to be elected through reserved seats, whilst others wanted women to be voted through the formal election process. 
There has to be a stringent criteria for candidates to be eligible to contest the elections which should be based on medical grounds; age and experience where the minimum age to contest the elections should be between 30 and 35 years of age; have at least five years of work experience in the public service; and a candidate’s education qualification should be tertiary level preferably a degree certificate.
Support was given for an effective voter identification system to address and reduce electoral fraud such as double voting and underage voting by using driver’s licenses, NID cards, and passports during polling. 
LLG elections to be conducted before the National Elections to allow the electoral roll to be used as a roll cleansing exercise during the LLG elections to improve roll accuracy before using it in the National elections. 
 There should be 4 Regional Electoral Commissioners and one Chief Electoral Commissioner whilst others wanted two Electoral Commissioners to allow for a balance and avoid bias in terms of decision making during the elections.
The responsibility of running the LLG elections and electoral roll update must be given to the provincial administration with adequate funding support and electoral training from PNGEC and the National Government. 
Make it compulsory for all candidates to be party endorsed in order to make independent candidates obsolete, allowing IPPCC to take responsibility in vetting and scrutinizing all party endorsed candidates before eligibility is granted to contest the elections, to achieve accountability and strengthen political parties as important political institutions. (ToR 13). 
Speakers wanted a Bi-cameral House to allow for Bills to be properly scrutinized and to strengthen the legislative process to achieve effective oversight in parliament (ToR 13).   
Speakers wanted the Prime Minister to serve for only two terms and be elected directly by the people. Also the PM’s seat should be reserved for indigenous Papua New Guineans (ToR 13).
Indigenous peoples only of an electorate should be allowed to contest the elections as opposed to non-indigenous people from other provinces to ensure effective representation on the floor of parliament (ToR 13)

A preliminary report was submitted to Government to inform them about the expenditure of the Review work and brief findings after a month’s period of consultations. The final report of the Review work is expected to be submitted to Government in the second quarter of 2019.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Justifications for the changes in the Revised Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates


By Dr Alphonse Gelu
In the last article I presented the proposed Constitutional Amendments and the changes contained in the Revised OLIPPAC. In this article I will look at the justifications for these proposed changes. The justifications are brief and will come under each of the changes.

The purpose of this article is to show why these proposed changes are necessary.
 I will first present the justifications for the proposed Constitutional amendments and will be followed with the proposed changes in the Revised OLIPPAC.

The first are the relevant constitutional provisions for amendment, alteration and repealing;
  1. Freedom of Assembly and Association (Amendment of Section 47)In this proposed amendment, political parties are to impose reasonable restrictions on members of political parties. Members make up the party, therefore the party can impose some restrictions on their members. This is like any other organisations or associations that have their own rules that they impose on their members.
  2. Voting in the Parliament (Amendment of Section 114)The proposed amendment to Section 114 is to subsection 6 and subsection 7 which states that voting in Parliament shall be in accordance with the party resolution. This is important as it allow members of parties to vote togather as a group based on the resolutions reached by the party based on the majority principle.
  3. Parliamentary Privileges, etc., (Amendment of Section 115)The proposed amendment is to allow for freedom of speech, debate, voting in Parliament by MPs and shall not be questioned in any court of law.
  4. Purpose of Subdivision H (Amendment of Section 127).The proposed amendment is to allow for rules of registration, monitoring and management of political parties, conduct of executives of political parties, discipline members of political parties and fines on political parties and executives.
  5. Repeal and replacement of Section 128.This proposed amendment is to clearly define what a political party is.
The proposed changes to the provisions contained in the Revised Organic Law are as follows;
  1. Section 25 (4) says that a political party must nominate 20% of the total number of candidates nominated by the party as women candidates. This proposed change is to make political parties to be more democratic/inclusive by allowing women to be members and candidates. This proposed change does not give women an upper hand over the male candidates. It only makes political parties to have 20% of its endorsed candidates to be women. Women will contest the election just like any other candidate.
  2.   Section 27 (7) says that Political parties must submit their membership listing to the Registry and the Registry will check and monitor the membership every two years.This proposed change is to ensure that political parties must have members throughout the country. Parties are supposed to grow from the grassroots upwards and not top-down as the case is now. It is unthinkable to have parties without membership in the country. The Registry will be given the power to check on the membership every 2 years to ensure that the parties still have members.
  3. Section 28 (6) says that party executives who are unsuccessful in a national election and intend to hold a position as a party executive must comply with their party constitution on their reappointment. Many party executives who hold the positions of Presidents, Treasurers and General Secretaries contest elections. In the process after the elections, many resume these positions without complying with the constitutions of their respective parties which calls for the election of the party executives. The party executives do not own the party as the case is now but the members therefore seeking leadership roles must be decided by the members during the party convention. Executives must not walk out and walk in at their own will.
  4. Section 28 (7) says that Salaries, allowances and other terms of conditions will be determined by the Registrar in consultation with the Salaries, Conditions and Monitoring Committee (SCMC).The terms and conditions of the Presidents, Treasurers and General Secretaries is one area that needs tightening. These executives are remunerated by the State. However their condition of employment is not guided by any legal or administrative framework. The proposed change is to allow the Registrar to have the powers to determine their conditions of employment under the framework of the SCMC.
  5. Section 30 contains the requirement of political party to register. Subsection (4) says that a registered political party must establish provincial branches with full time staffing at least 50% of the 22 provinces.This proposed change is to make political parties to have branches throughout the country. The branches must be mend by full time staff and must be operating according to the programs of the party. Currently out of the 45 political parties, only a few have branches in only a few branches. PNG has 22 provinces and the proposed change is suggesting that parties must have at least have branches in half of the 22 provinces.
  6. Section 32 (3) [v] states that a formal agreement to be signed between the declared endorsed members and the party in a recently concluded national election to remain with the party until after the election of the Prime Minister.This proposed change is very important because it contributes to the respect that elected MPs must have towards their parties. We have had experiences where party endorsed candidates immediately leave their parties after their declaration despite using the name of the party and the resources given during the elections. Once a Prime Minister is elected then the MP can leave his/her party at his/her own will.
  7. Section 33 sets out the registration procedure of a political party. Subsection (3) [b] states the amount of registration fee of a political party to register. The registration fee has increased to K30, 000.The proposed change to the increase in the registration fee is a deterrent to people who gives little thought to establishing a party. The current experience is that citizens form parties and then forget about the party making it inactive after an election.
  8. Section 33 (3)[e] says that a political party must submit at least five of its main policies that are different from other existing parties with the application to register and also the party must submit its party structure.This proposed change is to allow parties to submit their policies that are different from the existing parties. Currently we have parties that talk about almost the same policies and makes it difficult to distinguish the parties from each other. It is also important for the parties to submit their party structure which must be based on the lines of authority as prescribed within their party constitutions.
    Subsection (3) [g] says that party executives must submit their CVs and police clearance.
    This proposed change is to ensure that party executives that are appointed must have integrity to hold the positions within their respective parties and have the relevant qualifications and experiences.
    Subsection (3) [h] states the process of registration of a new political party must not take more than three months. This proposed change is to allow citizens that are serious about establishing a political party to register their party within the required time.
  9.  Section 33 (6) state that all political parties to renew their registration two years after the date of their registration with a fee of K15, 000 within 14 days.This proposed change is to ensure that only the serious and hardworking political parties to remain to exist. We have had political parties who were registered since 2001, contested all the elections since and did not win any seats and have remain inactive without membership throughout the country but yet are registered. This change is to off load these inactive parties out of the system. The renewal of the registration comes with a renewal fee.
  10. Section 37 (3) [e] says that an application will be rejected should a dispute or disagreement arises prior to registration of a political party.This proposed change came about through the experiences of the Registry who have to deal with newly registered parties who had disputes amongst its members prior to the registration of the party. This has caused massive problems for these parties when preparing to contest the elections with different factions putting up their own candidates.
  11. Section 46 contains provisions that deal with grounds for cancellation of registration of a political party. Subsection (1)[m] says that if a political party fails to renew its registration; subsection (1)[n] if a political party fails to resolve a prolonged dispute; and subsection (1)[o] if a political party fails to establish offices in 50% of the 22 provinces will face the consequences of being deregistered or cancelled by the Commission.This proposed change include grounds for deregistration of political parties. Some of the provisions have been highlighted earlier in the article.
  12. Section 56 (5) says that candidates who intend to contest the national elections must meet certain integrity standards to qualify.This is another important proposed change in the Revised OLIPPAC. The integrity standards will be very specific that would only allow citizens with high standards to contest the elections as candidates. This proposed change would also eliminate those undesirables who contest for some unknown reasons.
  13. Section 59 (2) says that a political party nominated candidates must be registered and be financial members of that political party not less than two years.
    This proposed change is radical in the sense that it would make elected MPs to have some degree of attachment to their party. We cannot continue to have elected MPs that are not members of parties and then move at their will with little considerations of the party. The membership to the party would allow the MPs to know what the party stands for and what the policies of the parties are.
  14. Section 63 contains the provisions of invitation to form Government. Under subsection (1) says that on the date of the return of writs in a general election, the Registrar of Political Parties will advise the Governor-General of the registered political party that has endorsed the greatest number of candidates declared elected in an election. The advice of the Registrar of Political Parties will invite that registered political party to form government.Subsection (2) says that where two or more registered political parties have endorsed an equal number of candidates declared elected in the elections, the Registrar of Political Parties will advise the Governor-General. The Governor-General, acting with, and in accordance with, the advice of the Registrar of Political Parties will invite the registered political party with the highest primary votes declared in the election to form Government.
    This proposed change is to allow for checks and balances to the invitation to form government. Parties come under the mandate of the Registrar and the OLIPPAC therefore the Registrar should be the rightful person that would make the invitation. This proposed change is not to usurp the powers of the Electoral Commissioner but to ensure that there is separation of the roles of the Registrar and the Electoral Commissioner.
  15. Section 67 contains the provisions of funding of political party. Under subsection (2), it says that only a registered political party is eligible to receive a sum of K10, 000.00 for each MP that the registered political party successfully endorsed at the most recent general election or by-election.Section 67 (2) says that only a registered political party is eligible to receive an amount of K10,000 funding from the Central Fund and such funding shall be made to a political party, for each MP that  the registered political party successfully endorse at the most recent election or by-election. Funding of political parties is to be increased from K10, 000 to K20, 000.
    This proposed change is to ensure that parties with MPs have sufficient funds to fund their administrative roles and responsibilities. The prices of goods and services have increased therefore the increase in funding to political parties would enable the parties to have funds that would support their operations.
  16. Section 71 (10)[a], [b], [c] and [d] contains the provisions regarding the contributions from citizens through fundraising activities by political parties and candidates must be reported to the Registry 7 days prior to the event, declare the total amount raised to the Registry and must include the amount raised in the annual financial returns. No government entities including State Owned Enterprises must donate to the fundraising activities.This provision is to allow parties to report on funds that their collect through various fund raising drives as a matter for transparency. Currently parties do not report this and the Registry could not monitor how much funds parties are making. At the same time, it is proposed that State Owned Enterprises cannot make contributions to parties at any point of time.
  17.  Section 73 (3) says that a MP can leave a party and join another party but funding will still be paid to the original party; under Section 62 (4)[a] and [b] says that if the MP has left and joined another party, the MP must repay money given during elections and repay the funding to the party from CFB. This proposed change is to ensure that parties who support a candidate who wins his/her seat but then leaves the party for another would continue to receive funding from the CFB. This proposed change is to ensure that the party is rewarded for winning a seat or seats in the election. Currently we have parties who bring in successful candidates but then they depart leaving the party without any support at all. At the same time, the proposed change also says that before the departure of the MP, he/she must repay funds given to him/her during the election and also repay any funds to the CFB when he was still a member of the party. This proposed change is to limit party hopping by the MPs.
  18. Section 78 (5) says that a candidate who seeks and accepts contributions from a citizen of more than K500,000 and from non-citizens for the purpose of his election would face a fine of K10, 000. This proposed change is to allow contributions to be made according to the limits as specified by law. Elections should be contested by citizens on an equal platform and not with some parties or candidates contesting with more resources than others. There must be an equal playing field for all the candidates. This change also targets "money politics" which has come to define elections in the country.
  19. Section 81 contains the provisions of annual financial returns, under subsection (4) it says that a political party that fails to file an annual audited financial return is guilty of an offence and will be fined K10, 000 for the first year of not submitting financial returns and deregistration of the party for not submitting in the second consecutive year.This proposed change is to target parties that uses the current loophole in the OLIPPAC not to submit their annual returns in the first year but do so in the second year to avoid deregistration. In the proposed change if a party does not submit its annual returns in the first year, it will be fined and in the second year if it fails then the party will be deregistered.
  20. Section 82 on False and Defective Returns subsection (3) says that a registered political party or a successful candidate who files a defective or false return is guilty and will be fined K10, 000 or will be jailed for a term of 12 months.This proposed change is to ensure that the returns submitted must be with accurate information on the funds available and how the funds were used during the elections. The Registry is of the view that information provided in the election returns by parties and winning candidates does not reflect the amount of funds used during the elections with so much cases of bribery and the use of money for illegal practices.
To conclude, the proposed amendments to the Constitution and the proposed changes in the Revised OLIPPAC are to improve the OLIPPAC and make it relevant to the changing political circumstances. The focus is basically to address some of the contested issues currently faced such as the number of political parties, making parties to become serious players in the politics of the country, ensuring that parties are grassroots organisations, making the use and raising of campaign finance to be more transparent and ensuring that parties exist and operates within the bounds of their constitutions and for them to promote democracy within their respective organisations.

The experiences of the Registry in enforcing the OLIPPAC since 2002 is also taken on board. With the nationwide consultation on halt due to funding shortages, would only delay the passage of the law which is long overdue. The changes as one can see does not favour any person, any party or any leader. It is neutral and it is framed with the aim of making improvements to the current OLIPPAC and ultimately to strengthen parties in the country.

For any citizens who require further explanation on the proposed changes, do not hesitate to contact the Registry on email partyregistry@ippcc.gov.pg or contact epok@ippcc.gov.pg or 
kpais@ippcc.gov.pg. 

Constructive comments are also welcome and would contribute to the wider consultation that the Registry would be undertaking shortly once funding is made available.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

UNDP conducts Needs Analysis for PNG National Parliament


By Madeline Saga
The Registry assisted and organised a meeting for the United National Development Program (UNDP) and five political parties. UNDP is working with the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in conducting a needs assessment for the PNG Parliament.

The overarching outcome of the Needs Analysis and subsequent parliamentary support is to ensure that systems and processes are in place to provide for a Parliament that can efficiently and effectively undertake its legislative, oversight and representative functions, with a view to strengthening good governance and development outcomes in PNG. The Needs Analysis will both identify gaps in current structures, processes and human resource capacity and propose recommendations to strengthen the legislature.

Expected outputs from this assessment is:
  • A Needs Assessment Report with practical recommendations on concrete initiatives to implemented under UNDP
  • A full-pledged project document for UNDP’s assistance to the National Parliament of PNG. 
Two groups were identified in order to conduct this assessment which was A) Parliamentary Leaders and B) Political Parties who had members of Parliament. This is where the Registry came in by identifying parties to take part in the assessment.

Ms. Nanise Saune-Qaloewai of UNDP Fiji and Mr. Kevin Deveaux former Canadian Member of Parliament and UNDP Consultant overseeing this analysis met with the five political parties on the 12th March 2019 at the Registry of Political Parties’ Bengo Conference room. A question was asked to the political parties if there was a need to provide support to parliament, their perception of parliament and if political groups were connected to parliament. The focus of these questions was to share knowledge and experiences of other practices of parliamentary systematic processes in other countries such as Fiji, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Each of the political parties were given an opportunity to share their experiences and understanding of the PNG Parliamentary system and to identify any gaps that are currently a hindrance  to Political parties and their connection to Parliament. The political parties present were pleased to have met the team from UNDP as this allowed more discussions on issues they believed was the result of a lack of confidence and communication with political parties and their role with the PNG Parliament. A number of interesting factors were taken into consideration such as;
  • Confirming that there was in fact a weak Parliamentary committee system in which funding was the key setback
  • There was a break down in relationships between Parliamentary committee and Political Party executives
  • There was a need for political parties to have staff employed by parliament to enable parties constant communication with its parliamentary leaders
  • Reintroduce this practice more than 20 years ago where each parliamentary leader was given 9 staff of which 4 represented a political party to which they were a member of
  • Through the integration of party staff at the parliament the public would be invited for bills that need public scrutiny
  • Current committee members most often do not receive their sitting allowance, therefore do not attend most of these meetings when held in parliament
  • Political parties to take initiative to educate and train new staff under their parliamentary leader
  • Parties to learn from other democratic nations who practice in engaging this practice successfully
Through the Political parties present the officials from UNDP were able to make contact to meet with each of the parties’ parliamentary leaders. This confirmed the importance of why party executives were vital in maintaining productive relationships and accountability between political parties and the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea. A progressive meeting will take place later on in the year.