Court reserves its decision on competency of petition filed against MP

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The Waigani National Court has reserved its decision on competency regarding an election petition filed by Nuku Open candidate Andrew Kumbakor against MP Joe Sungi.
The objection is over whether the petition was filed within the time allowed (40 days) as is the mandatory requirement of Section 208(e) of the Organic Law on National & Local Level Government Elections (“Organic Law”).
Sungi, who won the seat in the national election,  also sought orders of the court to dismiss the entire petition filed on Aug 30 for being incompetent as it was filed two days out of time.
The court yesterday heard submissions by the parties on the notice of objection to competency filed on Sept 25.
The petition pleads that the first respondent Sungi was declared on July 20.  The court heard from the lawyer representing Sungi, Phillip Tabuchi, that the calculation of 40 days required to file a petition expired no later than Aug 29.
Tabuchi submitted that the petition was filed on Aug 30 which was a day out of time and therefore incompetent and should not be allowed to proceed further.
Lawyer Ignastius Mambei, representing Kumbakor, contended that a public holiday fell on Jul 26 and that day should not be taken into consideration when calculating the 40-day period.
Justice Leka Nablu set Dec 8 for a ruling.
The petition was filed against Sungi on allegations of bribery and undue influence.

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