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PNG Election Official Takes Blogger To Court For Calling Him A Tomato

Papua New Guinea has added a tomato to its already cooked election.

18/07/2017 8:51 PM AEST | Updated 18/07/2017 9:43 PM AEST
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When you start lobbing fruit-bombs in court, you know your election is, erm, problematic.

Australia's closest neighbour is currently undergoing its five yearly national elections, amid reports of election-related violence and vote buying, while thousands of voters appear to have been ­excluded from the rolls.

Amidst all this, the country's electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato has taken prominent local blogger Martyn Namorong to court, successfully applying for an order to gag Namorong from making defamatory statements.

"He made some defamatory statements and also called my surname, which is Gamato, as 'tomato'," Gamato told the ABC

"I don't look like a tomato, I'm a human being."

No arguing with that.

Namorong for his part has made his own statement:

PNG is a notoriously hard country in which to run an election, from reasons ranging from bureaucratic malfeasance to extreme geographic barriers.

Minor as it may seem, the Tomato stoush comes at a sensitive time for the country of seven million.

The Electoral Advisory Committee resigned en masse saying the Electoral Commission refused to give them even basic information which would allow them to monitor election conduct.

Voting had to be postponed for three days in the capital, Port Moresby, because officials went on strike, while Gamato was forced to declare early on the election was not a failure.

Three members of the country's Electoral Advisory Committee have resigned, citing a lack of resources to properly monitor the process.

At least one analyst has a alleged a large number of "ghost votes" in some key electorates where members of O'Neill's People's National Congress hold seats. However these claims have not been independently verified.

PNG's election cycle, which can take up to a month to declare a winner, is grinding to a close.

It looks like incumbent Peter O'Neill will remain in the job, but the PM -- facing his second election for the gig -- is staring down the barrel of an opposition coalition made up of dissatisfied former allies.

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