THE Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC) is now doing final preparatory works in preparation for the conduct of by-elections for three vacant constituency seats in the Bougainville House of Representatives.
This assurance was given recently by the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner Mr George Manu to dispel doubts that people in these respective constituencies are having over the prolonged delay in conducting these by-elections.
“I want to assure the people in these three constituencies of Halia, Taonita Teop and Kongara that we are now doing final preparations before we can conduct the by-elections,” Mr Manu said.
The Taonita Teop constituency seat had been vacant since 2016 following the demise of their member, late Raopos Apou Tepaia.
As for the Halia and Kongara constituency seats, vacancy exists following the resignation of their respective elected members early last year to contest the 2017 National General Elections.
While delivering this assurance, Commissioner Manu also clarified that funding availability has been the main reason behind the delay in conducting the elections.
Early last month the chiefs of Taonita Teop had petitioned the ABG to quickly make funds available for the by-elections.
However, Mr Manu when speaking to reporters recently regarding the chiefs petition, said though he understands their frustration he cannot do much as everything depends on funding.
Mr Manu said even though OBEC is the custodian of people’s democratic rights to cast their votes, his office still relies on the government to allocate funding to conduct elections.
He added that OBEC had made a number of submissions to ABG over the past months for the release of funds to facilitate these elections, but nothing positive have been achieved until recently when the Bougainville Executive Council approved the release of funds for the elections.
The allocation of funds has now enabled OBEC do final preparations before conducting the elections.
The election dates for the by-elections will shortly be announced by Commissioner Manu however it is anticipated that elections will be held between September and October this year.