Court turns down Powi over ballot-box dispute

National

The Waigani National Court has refused to grant an order sought by Southern Highlands Governor William Powi to count 48 disputed ballot boxes.
The court, presided by Justice Colin Makail, also refused to grant another order sought by Powi to stop the counting for the Southern Highlands regional seat until the 48 ballot boxes were transferred from Mendi to the new counting venue in Mt Hagen to be counted.
Makail said the counting must continue until a final result was announced.
He said the election for the seat had gone past a week since the date for the return of writs and if the counting was stopped, it would cause further delays for the declaration of a candidate.
He said if Powi was aggrieved from the final result of the election, he could challenge the result in the Court of Disputed Returns.
The court made the ruling yesterday following an application filed by Powi’s lawyer, Martin Kombri ,on Tuesday.
Kombri submitted that the boxes, from the Nipa-Kutubu electorate must be admitted into scrutiny as directed by Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato on Aug 4 telling the election manager and returning officer to include them in counting.
Kombri said the boxes were set aside by election manager David Wakias on the basis that proper processes were not followed.
He said the election manager has no power to set aside these boxes.
The commission’s lawyer, Roselyn Kot, said it wanted the boxes to be counted.

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