Update on 2018 ABG By-Elections

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.

Roll Update for ABG By-Elections progressing

WORK on updating the electoral roll for the three vacant constituency seats in the Bougainville House of Representative is progressing.
According to the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu, enrolment agents have been tasked to make sure that they visit and enrol all eligible voters in the villages and wards assemblies in these three constituencies.

These constituencies include Halia in Buka and Taonita Teop in Tinputs districts of North Bougainville and Kongara in the Kieta district of Central Bougainville.

“Work on updating the roll is progressing and I want to appeal to all eligible voters in these constituencies to ensure that your name is enrolled so that you will be able to exercise your democratic right in voting for the candidates of your choice during the election,” said Mr Manu.

“If your name is not on the roll, then you will not be eligible to vote. That is why it is important that all voters should ensure that their names are on the roll to avoid inconvenience during polling.”

Mr Manu also called on the enrolment agents to make sure that the names of the voters are spelt correctly and that all eligible voters are enrolled.

Following the completion of the roll update exercise in these constituencies, all field work will then be brought back to OBEC office in Buka for data entry.

The certified roll that will be used during the by-elections will be in place before the election day.

The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner is yet to announce the dates for the by-election however it is anticipated that it will take place between September and October this year.

Why Should I Vote

There are many reasons why it is important that those people who are eligible to vote and that their names are registered on the Electoral Roll should exercise their democratic rights by voting for their preferred candidates during elections. Below are some important points to consider before taking part in the polling process;

(a) The candidate that wins should bring service and developments into the constituency;

(b) The candidate that wins should address the needs of the population within his/her constituency;

(c) The candidate that wins should not be a person that will only serve the interest of his/her cronies;

(d) The candidate that wins should lead his/her people in the next five years;

These are some important points for voters to consider before taking part in elections.

 

Candidate Eligibility for Urban Community Government Elections

1. A person is eligible to be a candidate for election as a ward representative for a ward if-

  • (a) the person is an elector of the ward for the election; and
  • (b) the person’s nomination as a candidate is supported by at least 2 electors of the ward; and
  • (c) the person is acting of his or her own free will.

 

2. However, a person is not eligible to be a candidate for election as a ward representative if-

  • (a) the person is a member of, or a candidate in an election of, the House of Representatives or National Parliament; or
  • (b) the person is a ward representative for a different ward or, in the case of a general election, the person is or has been a candidate for a different ward in the election; or
  • (c) the person is a member of the staff of the community government; or
  • (d) the person has been sentenced to imprisonment and is, or could on the happening of some contingency become, liable to serve the sentence or the remainder of the sentence; or
  • (e) the person is not eligible for election under Part XIII (Leadership Code) of the Bougainville Constitution.

 

3. The candidate must be of the required gender.

4. However, a person of unspecified gender may assume a gender for becoming a candidate (and if the person is elected, the person will be taken to be of that gender for this Act).

About OBEC

About OBEC

The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC) is a Constitutional Office established under the Constitution of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It was established following a decision by the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) in 2010 to establish Bougainville’s own electoral commission. However, this decision was not implemented until 2014 when BEC appointed Mr George Manu as the acting Electoral Commissioner. This appointment led to the eventual establishment of OBEC. The first elections to be facilitated by OBEC were the 2014 by-elections for Hagogohe, Peit, Taonita Tinputz, Kongara and Lule constituencies, and the 2015 ABG General Elections. Before that, the PNG Electoral Commission was responsible for the conduct of the 2005 and 2010 ABG General Elections as well as the 2008 ABG presidential by-election. OBEC is responsible for conducting ABG General Elections and Community Government elections in Bougainville.

OBEC Strategic Foundation

A. Vision
Our vision is to be an independent and competent electoral body striving to strengthen democracy in Bougainville through the adoption of transparent and inclusive electoral processes.

B. Mission Statement
To strengthen democracy and good governance in Bougainville by conducting regular and credible elections through collaborative partnerships, strengthening the integrity of the electoral system, and enhancing OBEC’s institutional capacity.

C. Guiding Principles
We will be guided by the following values and principles in carrying out the mandate of OBEC and performing our individual functions as officers and staff:

Independence and Impartiality.
We will administer and conduct elections in an independent manner. We will perform our functions in a politically neutral and impartial manner and treat all election participants equally and fairly, without giving advantage to any political tendency or interest group.

Integrity.
We will ensure the integrity of the electoral process by guaranteeing full control of the electoral process. Anyone who threatens the integrity of the electoral process through violation of election laws, rules and regulations will be dealt with effectively.

Transparency.
The way we organize and conduct elections will be done in an open and transparent manner. As long as it is reasonable, we will allow public scrutiny of the policies and actions of the Commission.

Accountability.
We will endeavor to have an accountable administration of elections at each stage of the process and institute mechanisms to ensure compliance with standards. We will require each and every participant of the electoral process, including the commission personnel, voters, political parties and candidates, to follow laws and regulations.

Efficiency.
Given the cost of election administration, we will work hard to ensure that election funds and resources are used wisely and efficiently.

Service Orientation.
We recognize that our stakeholders expect quality service from us. We will continuously improve the conduct of elections to make it more inclusive and accessible to voters

Professionalism.
As a young organization, we will continuously upgrade our skills and competencies, improve our morale and discipline and strives to act in a professional manner at all times.

OBEC Structure

OBEC is headed by an Electoral Commissioner, and is assisted by the Director for Election Management and five managers-Regulatory Framework and Training, Election Operations, Enrolment and Electoral Rolls, Information and Community Awareness, and Corporate Services. The current Commissioner, Mr Manu was appointed acting Commissioner in 2014 and has been acting on this post till the 1st of October 2017 when he was confirmed to the position, with his gazettement done on 29 September 2017. Mr Manu’s deputy is Desmond Tsianai, who is the Director for Election Management. The other senior managers of OBEC are Ian Job (Manager Election Operations), Winterford Toreas (Manager Information and Community Awareness), Isaac Eminoni (Manager Enrolment and Electoral Rolls), George Kenatsi (a/Manager Regulatory Framework and Training) and Jason Kauva (a/Manager Corporate Services). Each of these managers have a number of officers employed under their respective sections.

Contact Details
Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner
P. O. Box 322,
Buka, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Phone: +675 973 9841
Email: support@obec.gov.pg