The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Papua New Guinea is assisting and facilitating a comprehensive lessons-learnt exercise on the 2015 Bougainville General Elections in conjunction with the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC).
The lessons learnt exercise which started on 9th June aims to understand the main lessons that can be used to assist OBEC, the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the Papua New Guinea national government, development partners, and other stakeholders to plan, assist and implement future electoral events in the country.
UPDATE : An unsuccessful candidate for president in Bougainville says he is taking legal action over the election result, alleging ballot boxes were stuffed with fake votes. FULL REPORT HERE or see BELOW
The lessons-learnt work will consist of seven workshops with key stakeholders that will be held at preliminary, regional and general levels. The preliminary events, attended by OBEC Returning Officers and national/international Observers, will focus on identifying general strengths, areas for improvement and local innovations during this election. The regional and general events will bring together a wider cross-section of stakeholders and will focus on sharing experiences on topics covering the entire electoral process. The outcome from these workshops will be summarized in a report that will be shared with the Government of PNG and the ABG.
UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Roy Trivedy emphasised that: “These types of lesson learning events are important because they can help all of us to continuously improve.”
“The UN is well placed to facilitate this analysis that will further strengthen democratic practice and governance of Bougainville. The success of this exercise relies on the strong collaboration and engagement of all national stakeholders and international partners.” added Mr. Trivedy.
OBEC Acting Commissioner George Manu said: “We welcome UNDP ́s support to this exercise. The feedback of all election stakeholders will strengthen our ability to improve coming electoral processes.”
The third set of general elections in Bougainville since the signing of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) were concluded on 8 June with the return of the writs.
In collaboration with OBEC and other partners, UNDP provided targeted support to the Bougainville elections, following a request of the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. UNDP’s assistance focused on training for female candidates, journalists, and scrutineers; accreditation and briefing for international observers; helping establish processes for resolution of electoral complaints; and conducting a lessons-learnt exercise.
UNDP’s assistance has been instrumental in improving professional electoral management, ensuring more inclusive electoral processes and ensuring well conducted electoral processes in more than 58 countries around the world.
An unsuccessful candidate for president in Bougainville says he is taking legal action over the election result, alleging ballot boxes were stuffed with fake votes.
At the weekend John Momis was declared the winner of the presidential race in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region, easily defeating the eight men running against him.
With preferences he got over 51,000 votes with second place Ishmael Toroama on a little over 18,000.
But Sam Kauona, a former leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, says he and four other candidates, his BRA colleague Mr Toroama, Reuben Siara, Nick Peniai and Simon Dumarinu, are taking the action.
SAM KAUONA: We are taking this letter to court because the results are just unbelievable. A person cannot score like that when he is not favoured. For [President] Momis to score that number it is refutable. This is the new generation, it is not the old generation that used to favour Momis way back before the crisis. It is a new generation and the favouritism of the leaders in Bougainville has shifted. And that is why today a lot of people that have cast their votes, particularly in Buka, the northern part of Bougainville – they are saying, where are our votes? There is a strong public pressure stating where their votes are. It looks like it has not been counted, it looks like their votes has been thrown out and what is it fake votes have been inserted. The true ones have been extracted out and insertion of fake votes into ballot paper. And all funny things happened during the counting.
DON WISEMAN: There have been a lot of people watching this election process. You and your colleagues in the presidential race you had scrutineers every where, if there were strange things going on why weren’t they raised then?
SK: They raised it, they raised it, but the system protected the system itself. They were not able to become effective in scrutinising the process. To start off with, the distance from the counting and recording was out of sight, you cannot actually, as a scrutineer you cannot actually see what the name was. Only after some of us complained and they adjusted the tables, even then they could hardly see how the papers, whose name was it in the paper that they were sorting it out. To start off with there was a problem in the distance of scrutinising seeing it. And when they want to raise the point the police who were in charge discouraged them from voicing out. This is very clear because I pulled out the returning officer two times, not one time, to complain that the figures were not reconciling. The figures in the actual tally box for constituency compared to presidential counts, they were not reconciling, because those two areas constituency and presidential has to reconcile. And to make it worse they did not allow for our scrutineers to bring in the initial tally which was collected in the local areas. They were not allowed to bring that out or match it or reconcile with the process numbers. So it is strongly believed that the process has been tampered with.
DW: These are extremely strong allegations you are making. The other side can come back to you and say well this is just sour-grapes from people who competed and didn’t compete well enough.
SK: Well it has to be proven in court, there is a system you know. If you do not probe it out then the security situation in Bougainville is at risk. That is the important point, we have to take it to court, we have a situation here and if we do not address it in Bougainville the security situation is in danger.
DW: You are taking court action. What have you initiated so far?
SK: Well actually you are making a call right in the middle of a meeting with our lawyers. There are about nine of us complainants, contestants. Not just for the presidential seat but other areas like constituencies throughout Bougainville. We are here with a lawyer now. This is to stop people taking the law into their own hands. We have to do the right thing.