By Bryan Kramer
Following Sir Mekere Morauta’s announcement on Wednesday indicating he may contest 2017 Elections the Prime Minister’s Office was quick to release a press statement purportedly by Governor Powes Parkop headline “Governor Parkop Warns Against Morauta Early Campaigning”
What was interesting was that the statement issued from Prime Minister’s Office unsigned by the Govenor nor was it consistent with the statement he posted on his own facebook page two hours earlier.
A respected and senior PNG journalist commented on social media.
“I received a statement allegedly coming from Governor Powes Parkop, in regards to Sir Mekere Morauta’s intention to re-contest elections in NCD. I was hesitant to run the story because;”
1. the statement was never signed,
2. I wonder why, Governor Parkop, who has a mandated office, chose to use the Prime Minister’s Department and Office to release a statement, when he can use his own?
3. Though Governor Parkop may have his opinion about Sir Mekere, Sir Mekere as another Papua New Guinean is entitled to stand for public office. It will be the people’s choice and wish to decide on who they wish to vote for in the upcoming elections, and
4. finally, Sir Mekere has not made his announcement on which seat he will be pursuing in the 2017 Elections, and it would be premature for Governor Parkop to come out discouraging him from contesting.”
In a further twist Post Courier ran a story on page 5 in today’s paper “Electoral Offences Update.”
Following Powes purported press statement the O’Neill Government’s most loyal reporter Ms Gorethy Kenneth by coincidence or design took the initiative to contact the PNG Electoral Commissioner to get a statement warning against early campaigning.
The report states Gamato said this was an offence under section 98 through to 116 section of the criminal code. The report goes on to claim Gamato saying there was no particular difference in awareness as many political parties claim they are only carrying out awareness and not actual campaign.
So is Gamato correct? Short answer is no.
Not a single provision under the Criminal code or Organic Law on Elections prescribes early campaigning or awareness as an offence.
The offences Gamato makes reference to, Treating, Undue Influence and Bribery are not defined as early campaigning but criminal offences.
Perhaps the good Commissioner should consider engaging a new lawyer to provide sound legal advice to avoid making misleading statements that have no legal foundation. Or is it another case of the Prime Minister’s office and Post Courier reporter colluding to mislead the public?