Misleading publication by Post Courier that Gamato ousted as the Electoral Commissioner: Patilias Gamato not ousted but suspended.

The Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP, clarifies that Mr. Patilias Gamato was suspended on full pay and not ousted as reported in the Post Courier of 3rd September 2020.

“On the 03rd of September 2020, Post Courier ran an online publication and published in the front page of its daily Post Courier Newspaper an article titled “Gamato Ousted-Simon Sinai appointed new Electoral Commissioner.”

“The article contains misleading and unverified information stating that Mr. Patilias Gamato was ousted as the Electoral Commissioner of Papua New Guinea and Simon Sinai was appointed the new Electoral Commissioner and due constitutional process were not followed to remove Mr. Patilias Gamato.

“To clarify to the entire general public, I confirm that Mr. Patilias Gamato is not ousted as the Electoral Commissioner and there is no Constitutional crisis in place.
Mr. Gamato was suspended from office on full pay pending investigations into the following allegations made against him following his referral by the Electoral Commission Appointments Committee on 17 August 2020:

1. Payment of K9.5 million to Lama Rent A Car in 2018.
2. Engagement of consultants without proper contracts.
3. Creation of trust accounts without ministerial approval and trust instrument to facilitate payments to consultants.
4. Payments to consultants disguised as payments to outstanding service providers for the 2017 national elections.
5. Unauthorized pension payments to former Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo.
6. Breach of bail conditions and harassments of electoral commission staffs who are state witnesses.
7. Finding of guilt of contempt by the national court for disobeying the Supreme Court orders.

“Whilst they remain allegations subject to further investigations in accordance with the law, they are serious in nature and to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Electoral Commission of Papua New Guinea, the Electoral Commission Appointments Committee in accordance with the procedure set out in the Organic Law on Guarantee of Rights and Independence of Constitutional Office Holders upon being satisfied that a question of removal arises out of the allegations, has referred Mr. Patilias Gamato to an Independent Constitutional Office Holders Tribunal for investigations and has suspended him from duty on full pay pending the outcome of the investigations.

“Mr. Gamato is the Electoral Commissioner under suspension on full pay.

“His Deputy Simon Sinai has been appointed as the Acting Electoral Commissioner for a period of 6 months or until such time investigations are completed by the Tribunal.

“If the Tribunal finds that these allegations are true, they will recommend the appropriate penalty. If the allegations are not true, his suspension will be uplifted and he will resume office as the Electoral Commissioner.

“The Electoral Commission Appointments Committee does not have the power to terminate Mr. Patilias Gamato but has followed the due process in place to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Electoral Commissioner.

“It misleading for the Post Courier to make a publication stating the National Executive Council (NEC) had removed Gamato from Office.

“The Electoral Commission Appointments Committee is not the cabinet but is a body made up of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chairman of the permanent Parliamentary Appointments Committee and the Public Service Commissioner.

“The NEC has no legal role in the disciplinary process of a member of the Electoral Commission.

“I urge the General public and the print media to be sensitive and responsible in their style of reporting so the general public is not misled with misinformation.

Authorized for Release by:
Hon. James Marape
Prime Minister