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.



Registry uses mentoring approach to train Political Parties

Kila Poka, General Secretary for PNG Party with mentors 
Solomon Puana and Jacinta Rakuafery 
By Claudio Labeli
After the 2017 general election, the Registry decided to changes its approach in training political parties. This was due to the observations by the Registry on a survey conducted in 2016 and the election observation of the 2017 National General Elections. A major finding was that political parties were still unknown to vast majority of the population and did not have influence when it comes to voting hence, voters do not vote for parties. 

In June 2018 selected Registry staff underwent an intensive one week “train the trainer” program facilitated by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) officials. The training saw 15 staff successfully completing the trainers program. Each staff were put into pairs and allocated four political parties each to mentor. This saw the first mentoring program began in late September 2018 with one session held for the year.

This approach anticipates to see more interactions between the trainers and the party executives whereby a lot more questions and answers are exchanged. The training is targeted for the General Secretary and the Presidents of each parties. Four sessions will be conducted on a quarterly basis every year till 2021. A training manual is currently been developed for this mentoring program by the ALP and the Registry.

The Registrar is pleased with the mentoring so far which allowed party executives to have me to one contact with mentors who are staff of the Registry.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Nation-wide Consultation on the Revised Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC)”

Registrar, Dr Alphonse Gelu
By Dr Alphonse Gelu

The Registry of Political Parties in November 2018 received a letter from the Office of the State Solicitor requesting the Registry to conduct a nationwide consultation on the Revised Organic Law before it is given legal clearance to go before the National Executive Council (NEC) and then to Parliament. The main reason given by the State Solicitor is that the Organic Law is a Constitutional Law therefore the people of this country must have their say on any changes that are proposed. Transparency International had also recommended for a wider consultation before the Revised Law should go before NEC and Parliament. The Registry is now responding to the requests made despite that the Registry undertook some of the consultations back in 2014 and 2015. 

A budget for the consultation has been submitted to the Department of Treasury for funding in January, 2019 but the Registry has not received any response or acknowledgement on this request. 

For the benefit of the readers, the OLIPPAC was passed by Parliament back in 2001. A revision to the law was made in 2003 and which has been enforced since then. The main objectives of the OLIPPAC are; 
  • · To maintain and sustain political stability
  • · To promote integrity in the election process
  • · To strengthen political parties in the country
Immediately after its passage, the OLIPPAC managed to maintain and sustain political stability which saw a government staying in office for the entire life of Parliament from 2002 to 2007. The same would occurred from 2007 2012 however the decision of the Supreme Court of 2010 that nullified certain provisions of the OLIPPAC and the eventual staging of the Impasse did not see a government staying in office for the 5 years term.

Parliament of PNG
However form 2012 to 2017, the country was able to maintain political stability through the coalition government headed by the People’s National Congress (PNC). The stability was achieved without the provisions of the OLIPPAC but through the ability of the Prime Minister to hold on to his coalitions partners and maintain the majority in Parliament. 

The second objective is still a work in progress as evident in the manner political parties participate in the elections since 2002 and the related issues that affects the integrity of the election process. 

The third objective is also a work in progress as the Registry since 2013 has implemented programs to strengthen the political parties in the country. 

The primary focus for the article is to discuss the Revised OLIPPAC and the importance of the nationwide consultation as requested by the State Solicitor. 

The work on the Revised OLIPPAC started immediately after 2010 through a process of consultation by the former Registrar and now a Member of the Bench, His Honour Sir Kina Bona. 

From the consultations a brief was prepared and by the end of 2012 a draft Revised OLIPPAC was ready. By March 2013, the first draft was submitted to the NEC and by April 2014, the final draft was approved by the NEC. Since 2014, the Revised OLIPPAC never went before Parliament and the process of passing the law ended when the country went to the elections in 2017. Soon after the 2017 election, the Registry started working on the Revised OLIPPAC again after having a discussion with the Minister for Justice & Attorney General. It was also a priority from the Alotau Accord 2 beside the Bill on the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). 

The O’Neil-Abel Government made a commitment to immediately look into these Laws (Post Courier, August 10, 2017), however to date no progress has been made. 

The Revised OLIPPAC basically kept the majority of the provisions of the OLIPPAC, only about 5% of the provisions are new. The new provisions came about through the experiences of the Registry in implementing and enforcing the OLIPPAC since 2002 as well as filling the gaps that were left open by the decision of the Supreme Court in 2010. 

The proposed changes contained in the Revised OLIPPAC (2017) included the following new provisions; 

The first are the relevant constitutional provisions for amendment, alteration and repealing; 

1. Freedom of Assembly and Association (Amendment of Section 47) 

2. Voting in the Parliament (Amendment of Section 114) 

3. Parliamentary Privileges, etc., (Amendment of Section 115) 

4. Purpose of Subdivision H (Amendment of Section 127). 

5. Repeal and replacement of Section 128. 

And in giving effect to the purpose of those amendments, alteration and repealing, here are some of the specific changes and additional provisions contained in the revised Organic Law; 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Subsection (3) [g] says that party executives must submit their CVs and police clearance. 

Subsection (3) [h] states the process of registration of a new political party must not take more than three months. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

12. Section 56 (5) says that candidates who intend to contest the national elections must meet certain integrity standards to qualify. 

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. 

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. 

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 K20, 000.00 for each MP that the registered political party successfully endorsed at the most recent general election or by-election. 

16. Section 67 (2) says that only a registered political party is eligible to receive an amount of K20,000 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 increased from K10, 000 to K20, 000. 

17. 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 even, 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. 

18. 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. 

19. Section 78 (5) says that a candidates who seeks and accepts contributions from a citizen more than K500,000 and from non-citizens for the purpose of his election would be a fine of K10, 000. 

20. 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. 

21. 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. 

To conclude, the proposed amendments to the Constitution are not controversial including the proposed provisions of the revised OLIPPAC. They would tighten up on some of the areas that the Registry felt are currently weak and not producing the outcomes especially in strengthening political parties in the country. 

The focus of the Revised OLIPPAC is to strengthen political parties unlike the current OLIPPAC that restricted the conscience of the MPs and ruled unconstitutional. This is despite the case for argument on some of the provisions that were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 

In the nationwide consultation, the people would be presented these changes and their views would be taken on board by the Registry when putting togather the final draft of the Revised OLIPPAC.