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By Marjorie Finkeo in Port Moresby

Allegations of young women being traded for votes in several parts of the Highlands region during Papua New Guinea’s national general elections were raised yesterday in Port Moresby.

A high level conference held by the Governance and Service Delivery Sectoral Committee raised the concern of past experiences in parts of Highlands where young women and girls were taken away because community leaders wanted votes.

Government authorities have yet to act over this inhumane treatment of women and girls.

Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) interim chairman Thomas Eluh said there was no freedom in the voting system in PNG.

He said 2012 was the worst election experience he had had in his career.

He was in charge of the security operations in Hela Province, while also being the chief of Bougainville Police Service.

“From past experiences of those involved during that time, there were speculations or some had seen young women being traded for securing votes and a large amount of money was used,” he said.

‘Threats were issued’
“Threats were issued. There are many ways to get leaders into Parliament.”

Eluh said PNG was at the top of the list of most corrupt countries in the world, and it started from “households to the top bureaucratic levels”.

He said the consultative meeting aimed to bring stakeholders together to generate discussions on safety, transparency, fairness and accountability in the upcoming elections.

He said even trying to minimise such practices is not easy with all the challenges the country is facing.

“We all can sit here and talk about various steps of the ongoing issues affecting people, it is the voters out there who will play their part, they will be ones who will be targeted through corrupt means, so we appeal to our voters top stand firm and to follow the right processes and system — say no to corruption,” he said.

Eluh said everybody needed to work together and understand the importance of delivering a safe, secure and fair election.

The writs will be issued on April 28, and voting is due June 11-24.

Marjorie Finkeo is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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