Petition by candidates forces counting to stop

National

COUNTING in Lae will resume this morning after it was suspended on Saturday when candidates demanded that Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato replace returning officer Daniel Wassinak.
The candidates alleged that Wassinak was bulldozing the counting process for three boxes from polling venues at St Pauls, St Martins and Consort Yard that were stayed through court order.
The ballot papers from the three polling stations were counted on Friday, retrieved and recounted.
The candidates, chaired by Sir Nagora Bogan, with   Micah Vines as secretary, included Sir Bob Sinclair, boycotted the counting, withdrawing the presence of scrutineers from the counting room on Saturday.
“We understand that only one candidate will become a winner but it’s a  must  that he or she should win  the race in an honest manner so we all can work together for the greater needs of Lae,” Sir Nagora said.
He said from evidences found, polling process at those three venues was hijacked while Wassinak deprived scrutineers their responsibilities inside the counting room.
“Wassinaks’ attitude seems to favour a particular candidate which he had already pre-empted as the winner,” Sir Nagora said.
“Wassinak, his assistant and presiding officers have lost the trust and confidence of all the candidates and citizens in Lae.
“Lae is bigger than everybody, thus, the winning candidate should win in a fair and honest manner following the due election process instead of
intimidating and hijacking constitutional procedures. Something is totally wrong, we agreed to boycott counting until we get favourable answer from Gamato.”

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