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29 July 2017

PNG: Ombudsman wins court order to extend electoral writs deadline

New PNG government? … Coalition leaders Powes Parkop (SDP), incumbent PM Peter O’Neill (PNC), Sir Julius Chan (PPP), and William Duma (URP) show their unity in Port Moresby. Image: EMTV News

PORT MORESBY: (Asia Pacific Report/EMTV News/Pacific Media Watch): The Ombudsman Commission has obtained an interim court order to extend the return of the general election writs until 2pm on Monday as uncertainty continued over Papua New Guinea’s new government.

Chief Ombudsman Michael Dick said this was to ensure the remaining seats were returned within legal boundaries to ensure elected MPs could participate in the election of the Speaker and Prime Minister.

ANALYSIS: How O'Neill has tried to 'steal' the PNG election

The Governor-General, Sir Bob Dadae, yesterday invited incumbent Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to form a government, reports Loop PNG.

But Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato recommended that O’Neill be invited on the basis of incomplete writs – only those for 80 seats out of the 111-seat Parliament were presented, although 88 seats are understood to have been declared.

O’Neill’s People’s Congress Party (PNC) won the highest number of seats – 24 elected members. But O’Neill depends heavily on coalition partners to be able to form a government.

EMTV News reports that Chief Ombudsman Dick said Gamato must abide by the court order to hand over all the writs on Monday.

The Chief Ombudsman was accompanied by legal counsel Dr Vergil Narokobi and Ombudsman Richard Pagen.

Chief Ombudsman Dick resssured the electorates whose writs have not yet been returned that this court order would allow their elected members to participate in the first sitting of Parliament on Friday.

Asia Pacific Report is publishing electoral news from Papua New Guinea’s EMTV by arrangement.

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