By DOROTHY MARK
A little history yet a significant political record was set in Madang yesterday when all incumbent MPs were replaced by new ones.
The regional seat was the last to be declared which saw businessman and People’s Labour Party leader Peter Yama unseat Governor Jim Kas in the 29th and final exclusion.
Yama won with 85,382 votes when the absolute majority vote dropped to 79,401, leaving National Alliance candidate James Yali with 72,763 as the runner-up.
Counting for the regional seat went through a lot of drama this week before the declaration was made.
On Monday at 6am, Pangu Pati candidate Jerry Singirok went to the counting centre to present a petition to the provincial returning officer Peter Yasaro, but was assaulted at the venue gate by Yama. Yama was frustrated by the delay of the counting process.
Yali came into Singirok’s aid but was stoned by the crowd outside the counting centre.
About two hours later, Singirok returned and apologised for causing a scene, saying it was not his character to instigate trouble
and that he and Yama had made peace.
Minutes later, four security officers acting on orders to make sure counting was conducted rightfully were misunderstood by scrutineers and counting officials.
The security officials’ positions in the counting centre were questioned and the security personnel, who could not explain some confidential reasons of their new standing positions, withdrew and left the counting centre.
Only a handful of security personnel were there so counting continued but was stopped at around 9pm when Yasaro was called and ordered to stop counting without full security presence.
Counting resumed around 10.30am yesterday when counting officials apologised to the security personnel.
Madang police commander Superintendent Jacob Singura said security personnel were there to assist the electoral commission deliver a free, fair and safe election.
At 4.30pm yesterday, way into the final exclusion before Yama’s declaration, Yali attempted to get a court order to stop the counting to re-check all votes for Yama before declaration.
Yali’s application was unsuccessful when Judge David Cannings declined to hear the matter and referred it to be heard in a proper election petition court in Waigani at 9.30am on Friday.
By DOROTHY MARK