The social action arm of the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea launched last month an “electoral education and awareness” program ahead of this year’s national elections.
Caritas PNG said the program targets the three million population of Papua New Guineans through community visits, radio and TV messaging, social media and SMS blasts.
Mavis Tito, Caritas PNG national director, said they want to reach out to the women and the youth to show them “the value of their votes” and offer them the “opportunity to vote without fear or favor.”
“This is possible if we all rally behind the women and youth of this nation to make their mark on the ballot papers, free from all forms of violence and intimidation,” said Tito.
Father Giorgio Licini PIME, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, said much of the work will be done in rural areas.
“There is much to be done to ensure and avoid any physical confrontation this election period,” said the priest, adding that the election “should be an opportunity to debate, participate, share and exchange ideas.”
“There should be a good electoral exercise for the country where there is a common effort to have fairness and peace that ultimately will benefit and create opportunities for all citizens of Papua New Guinea,” said Father Licini.
General elections are scheduled to be held in Papua New Guinea from June 11 to 24 this year to choose members of the National Parliament who are elected from single-member constituencies by preferential voting.
Voters are given up to three preferences, with a candidate declared elected once they received over 50 percent of preference votes.
Of the 111 members, 89 are elected from “open” seats and 22 from provincial seats based on the 20 provinces, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the National Capital District (Port Moresby).