Sunday, November 17, 2019


By Madeline Saga
The Registry of Political was part of a delegation that included party executives selected by the UNDP who also funded and organised the forum on political parties in Honiara, Solomon Islands from the 18th to 19th September 2019.

The theme of this forum was specifically to create inclusive political parties by identifying core groups such as women and youth who play an important role in maintaining an effective party. Key participants included electoral commissions, registries of political parties and commissions and executives of political parties from countries namely Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tonga.

The attendees were Registry, Dr Alphonse Gelu, Emmanuel Pok, Madeline Saga, National Alliance Party, Joyce Grant, PANGU Party, Morris Tovebae, Eri Singin, youth rep, Peoples Progress Party Joe Las, youth rep, Allegiance Party Grand Chief Ila Geno and Peoples’s National Congress Party, David Dom Kua. The Senator of Hawaii, Senator Kalani English gave a keynote address on establishing an Inclusive Political Party from the United States experience. He emphasised the importance of sustainable development goals by implementing them within party policies that would have a snowball effect into state institutions that are lacking and that need to be addressed within a society that is intending to be inclusive. He further stated that the language voters use also known as their “mother tongue” is crucial for political parties when addressing inclusivity for all minority groups.

The two day forum included sessions on sharing examples of guidelines for inclusive political parties, the role of Political Party regulators in promoting inclusivity and making political parties inclusive of youth and other marginalised groups.

Participating political parties also gave their experiences about the challenges they faced when trying to apply inclusivity that include common issues such as:

Duplication of marginalised groups

The size of membership and leader focused

Leadership tussle

Funding issues

Electoral systems failure to play its role

Resources to fund political parties in general

Party constitution rules and regulations

Political Party Laws

Electoral Laws

Having said that, a number of case studies were presented where inclusivity was achieved by introducing changes in either their electoral laws or party laws. Nepal in particular was a classic example whereby a shift from First past the post electoral system to the parallel system also encouraged the introduction of the Electoral Candidates Quota system in all levels of society. Parallel voting describes a mixed electoral system where voters in effect participate in two separate elections for a single chamber using different systems, and where the results in one election have little or no impact on the results of the other.

This forum was a follow up from last year held in Vanuatu and the first in Fiji in the previous year as part of the on-going support of ensuring political parties within the region work in partnership to allow effective democratic principles are upheld through political parties from each country. A similar forum will take place in November in Port Moresby that will include political party executives and women intending candidates.

Meeting with Auditor General on Report

By Jacinta Rakuafery
Audit for the first time was conducted by the Auditor General Office on the accounts and records of the Office of the Registry of Political Parties for the year ended 31 December 2016 and the report was received by the Registrar. Dr Gelu on the 29th August 2019.
The Management was given the opportunity in the Management Letter received from AGO on audit observations arising from the audit for corrective actions where necessary.The management met with Senior Officers from AGO on the 2nd of Oct to correct findings in the audit report. Management were given the opportunity to sought clarifications and confirmation. Matters raised will be responded to and submitted to AGO by end of the October 2019.

Registry’s awareness drive in Hagen & Goroka

By Solomon Puana
The Registry of Political Parties has continued on with its campaign in promoting and strengthening political parties during the major annual cultural events in the Highlands Region. The first awareness program was conducted in Mt Hagen during the Show from the 17th to 18th August and the second was conducted during the 63rd Annual Goroka Show from the 13th to 15th September just before PNG’s Independence Day (September 16) in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province.
The awareness was basically to disseminate information about political parties in the country and at the same time encouraging people (both male and female) to at least know a political party and join a political party of their choices. The program is part of the awareness drive that the Registry has initiated through its Policy and Legal Division to strengthen political parties which is the mandate of the Registry of Political Parties under the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) and the PNG Constitution.
During the awareness program conducted at the two major annual cultural events, many people were very grateful and were keen to know more about political parties in the country. Most of the people had no idea or clue about political parties and their importance in a democracy, and with such awareness programs conducted, it was something new for them to know and learn.
Of the two awareness conducted in Mt Hagen and Goroka, we also enlisted a total of 202 people who had shown interest and want to become members of different political parties of their choices (refer to Tables 1 and 2). This has indicated that as the mandated body dealing with political parties and managing their affairs, more awareness programs on political parties need to be carried out especially in rural areas because that is where the majority of the illiterate population lives.

Table showing the number of people joining each political parties in the Hagen Show

Table showing the number of people joining each political parties in the Goroka Show

Courtesy Visit by New U.S Political Officer

By William Garena
The Registry was visited by the United States Embassy officials on 13th September 2019. The purpose of their visit was to introduce the Embassy’s new Political Officer Mr John Skerry, who was accompanied by the Embassy’s Political/Economic Assistant Officer Mr George Singut. Mr Skerry replaces Miss Christine Buzzard whose tenure ended after serving the U.S Embassy for three years. Mr Skerry received congratulatory remarks on his appointment, and was welcomed into the country.

During their courtesy visit the U.S Embassy officers were briefed on updates of the Registry’s 2019 activities, as well as the Registry’s activities for the next 3 years. The Registrar, Dr Alphonse Gelu took a moment to give a brief background about the Registry’s mandate through its work with political parties, and how the Registry has continued its efforts to strengthening and promoting political parties, and democracy in the country.

The discussions proved insightful as Mr Skerry was informed about Papua New Guinea’s political culture, and the current political climate in light of the new Marape-Stevens led Government in late May of this year. An updated listing of political party membership was also furnished to both officers of the Embassy.During the discussions both officers were made aware of the funding challenges the Registry faced in implementing critical programs that would contribute towards strengthening and promoting political parties, and democracy in the country.

It is hoped that through the new Political Officer, the Registry and the U.S Embassy can continue to work closely in supporting the Registry’s activities particularly in the area of awareness, and women in politics through political parties. The Registry has always maintained a good working relationship with the U.S Embassy, particularly in the area of information sharing, and considers the Embassy as an important stakeholder.

Finalisation of the Revised OLIPPAC

By Solomon Puana
After completing the process of conducting a nationwide consultations on the Revised OLIPPAC from 20th May to 15th July 2019, the Registry took a week off to Alotau from 01st to 08th August 2019 to finalise the draft Revised OLIPPAC at the Masurina Conference Centre. The team comprised of 11 staff from the Registry which included the Registrar who led the team, Mr John Bishop, Mr Emmanuel Pok, Mr Ila Pala, Ms Marie Fraghi, Mr Claudio Labeli, Mr Kennedy Pais, Ms Madeline Saga, Mr William Garena, Mr Anton Napia and Mr Solomon Puana to put together the Revised OLIPPAC. The purpose of the trip to Alotau was to keep away from distractions and concentrate on finalizing the draft as it is important for the Registry to submit the final draft to NEC and Parliament before the next Parliament Seating which will be held in November, 2019. The main aim of the Registry is for the Revised OLIPPAC to be passed before 2022 so that the Organic Law can be tested in the coming election and at the same time for the Registry to effectively carry out its operations in managing the political party’s affairs.
On 02nd August 2019, the Registrar went through with the team on the revised OLIPPAC, section by section and the changes proposed to be inserted in the revised OLIPPAC. While going the through the revised OLIPPAC, the views of the people were also considered in the proposed changes in the Revised OLIPPAC.
On 03rd August, Mr Pais presented the data collected on the proposed changes. While cross checking the data against the proposed changes that were already inserted in the revised OLIPPAC, the team had to agree with the final changes to finalise the draft revised OLIPPAC. On 04th August, the team continued on with finalising the Administration Act Bill and the Regulations of the Bill. On the 05th and 06th August, the team was put into four groups to work on the whole package of the revised OLIPPAC.
The Registrar and Mr Bishop worked on the Administrative Act Bill. Mr Pok and Mr Puana worked on the Drafting Instruction, Explanatory Notes, the First Reading and the NEC Submission of the Constitutional Amendments. Mr Pais, Mr Garena and Ms Saga worked on the Drafting Instructions, Explanatory Notes, the First, second and third Readings of the Revised OLIPPAC. Mr Pala and Ms Fraghi worked on the Regulation Bill and Forms of the Revised OLIPPAC. All in all, the work on finalizing the draft Revised OLIPPAC has been a success with the proposed changes been inserted considering the views and the data collected from the people during the nationwide consultations in the country. The Registry now is in the final stages of putting together all necessary documents with the proposed Constitutional Amendments and the draft Revised OLIPPAC to be submitted to the National Executive Council and Parliament for its approval and passing of the Bill.

Key areas in strengthening political parties in PNG

By Dr Alphonse Gelu
The Registry since its establishment in 2001 has worked hard in strengthening political parties in the country. The most important step taken by the Registry was firstly by creating a conducive environment in which the Registry and the various political parties can conduct their business. In 2012, this relationship developed into new heights when programs were identified by the Registry to build the capacity of the party executives. This resulted in the roll out of the Learning and Development Plan. The Plan saw the Registry conducting 4 workshops in year starting in 2013 to 2017. Political party executives benefited from these trainings which started off with the Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) facilitating and later the Registry through the Registrar taking over the facilitation from 2015 to 2017.
In 2018, the mentoring plan was introduced to replace the Learning and Development Plan. The mentoring was cheaper as it did not cost the Registry funds to conduct such trainings and also the mentoring enabled the party executives to have a one to one dialogue with mentors who were all staff of the Registry.
At the end of the mentoring sessions, each mentors write short briefs about the mentoring and the issues discussed with the party executives. The Australian Labour Party (ALP) provided training for the staff to become mentors or trainers. The Registrar provides guidelines for every mentoring sessions that take place quarterly.
Despite the roll out of these programs, the Registry is still keen to provide further support to the political parties. These support is to strengthen the parties and to make them known to the people. What are some key areas that are critical to the strengthening of political parties in Papua New Guinea? The following are the critical areas that must be done mostly by the political parties themselves to strengthen them: Membership Drive
This is an area that the Registry has continuously reminded political parties to do. In 2013, a template was developed by the Registry to assist political parties to maintain a database on the membership of political parties. Unfortunately to date, this area has not been seriously embraced by the political parties. It is a concern to the Registry that parties are not taking heed of this direction from the Registry. Revise Party Constitution The party constitutions are important for all political parties. They all have constitutions but the Registry is working with political parties to ensure that what they have in place is a constitution that takes into account all the aspect of running and managing a political party. It has come out that some parties do not have constitutions that adequately addressed certain areas and this was evident when there were internal disputes that arose.
Revise Party Policies Parties have been asked to revise their policies after every elections. Parties have not done this despite the calls made by the Registry. Parties must know that policies should drive the support during the elections. If parties failed to receive support during the elections, then the policies have not worked to attract the support.
It is common knowledge that voters do not vote for policies during the elections in Papua New Guinea. And political parties do not campaign on policies. This is the reality but from the Registry’s perspective, this can and need to change. Political parties must inform the people about their policies. The policies must become the decisive element in the casting of preferences.
Develop Work Plans Political parties as organisations must have their annual work plans in place. The Registry has reminded the parties since 2013 to do this, however many have failed to provide their annual work plans to the Registry. Even worse is the parties that are in Parliament and those that are in government. The Registry has no idea what these parties planned to achieve annually and what activities they would be involved in and how much it would cost them to do this.
The work plans would show the Registry and members of the party what the party envisage to roll out in a year. Without these then the Registry is truly in the dark on what the parties are doing and with the assumption that the parties are not doing anything at all. This assumption does not help the case of the Registry putting a stop to payments of certain allowances to the General Secretaries because the Registry strongly feel that the General Secretaries do not deserve these kind of payments for doing nothing.
Awareness Awareness is the key activity that would really change the people’s perception about political parties in the country. Parties and their leaders need to visit villages, sleep and talk with the villages and inform them about national issues and what the government is doing. The reality is that there is no attachment between the government, political parties and the people. There is a deep divide between the parties and the people resulting in parties having little success in elections.
Strengthen relationship between parliamentary wing and non-parliamentary wing The relationship between these two groups is important to strengthening political parties in terms of maintaining unity and standing togather to address issues confronting the party. Recently a number of parties have fallen prey to disagreements and led to disintegration in party membership and unity. Both groups have to respect each other’s mandate and create an environment that would contribute positively to the interests of the party.
Raise funds for the party Funds is critical for political parties. Political parties in the country are poor and lack the funding that is required to do other important things to strengthen the parties. The parties have to be innovative and creative on how to raise funds for themselves. Failure to do this would contribute to them remaining within the status quo. This is not beneficial at all for the parties.
Give equal attention to women as party members and those that have potentials to succeed in elections Making political parties inclusive is also critical to party development in the country. Political parties must take this agenda on board and be serious about it. Women are equal partners to men and political parties must have in place plans and programs to lure support from the women and provide support for the women. Parties need to mobilise the women because they are voters themselves and they can make a difference to the election outcome.
The Registry has tried its best to work with political parties to promote women within their organisations and would continue to do this.From the Registry of Political Parties, the above are the critical areas in strengthening political parties in the country. The responsibility to achieve and to plan these areas is the sole responsibility for the political parties themselves. They must seriously embrace these areas.

MSG & International IDEA Forum

By Madeline Saga
The Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat (MSGS) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) jointly organised a Forum in Honiara, Solomon Islands on the 17th of September 2019 . This event was held in conjunction with the UNDP’s Pacific Regional Conference on Inclusive Political Parties (18-19 September 2019). The Forum was attended by Dr Alphonse Gelu and Madeline Saga from the Registry and a number of party executives including Joyce Grant, Morris Tovebae and Grand Chief Ila Geno. Dr Gelu was invited to speak about Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) experiences on maintaining democracy. He outlined the relationship with IDEA back in 2015 to conduct a democratic assessment for PNG. The discussions with IDEA on promoting democracy were not new to the Registry.
The Forum was intended to provide an opportunity for the two organisations – MSG Secretariat and International IDEA to pronounce their partnership which was recently established. In the Forum both organisations introduced the contents of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), presented their joint work plan and received and took note of comments and suggestions from the participants who were all from the MSG member countries that include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.
The Forum covered in detail the introduction to the MoU and the 2019-2020 Work Plan. On the part of International IDEA, Ms. Leena Rikkila Tamang, the Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific gave an introduction about her organisations Key Expertise and Prospects for Melanesia. This included International IDEA’s tools, data and knowledge resources and how best they may be relevant to Melanesia.
Participants of the Melanesian countries that also included Political Party representatives were grouped into their countries and were given the opportunity to make presentations based on these discussion topics involving Democracy education for young people, crucial issues for democracy research, Election Observation and addressing challenges and solutions to Melanesian women’s participation in politics. Based on these topics, each participating country was asked to:

* Comment on the relevance of the topic in Melanesian context
* Identify how (through what activities) the topics could be carried out by MSGS and IDEA at the regional level
* Identify any necessary changes in behaviours, relationships and practices for the topic to be successfully conducted.
As a result of these presentations of the member countries, both the MSGS and International IDEA have vowed to ensure to make contact with the participating organisations as the beginning of this work plan of 2019-2020.
The Registry was pleased to be a part of this forum as it is through this forum that has given awareness of other regional institutions within Melanesia who are able to jointly fund activities that the Registry intends to implement in the next four years. As a result of this forum the Registry has identified key areas that would be relevant for this support from the MSGS and IDEA. The Registry looks forward to maintaining an open dialogue that will form a stronger interaction with other Melanesian countries that will lead to a strong regional relationship within Asia and the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand and their political parties.