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By DAPHNE WANI
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed the decision by a losing candidate to withdraw a Supreme Court reference relating to the legality of Sunday polling conducted in the Ialibu-Pangia electorate, says his lawyer.
The reference was filed in the Supreme Court by candidate Stanley Liria who argued that polling on Sunday was contrary to the Organic Law on National and local level government elections.
Polling in Ialibu-Pangia was conducted on Sunday, June 25. Liria wanted the court to rule on the constitutionality of Sunday polling.
Justice Stephen Kassman allowed the withdrawal after Liria’s lawyer informed the court yesterday that he had been instructed by his client to withdraw the case.
O’Neill’s lawyer Tiffany Twivey told The National that O’Neill had welcomed Liria’s  decision so that he could fully focus on serving the interests of his district, his province and Papua New Guinea rather than be distracted by court cases.
“The people have spoken at the ballot boxes and it was a wise decision to withdraw by Liria in the best interests of Papua New Guinea,” Twivey said.
Liria, in a written application to the court, stated that he wanted to withdraw as he believed that his participation in the court proceedings and the court proceedings themselves could be contributing to the ongoing unrest in and about Southern Highlands.
He also stated that he wished to withdraw the proceedings as a matter of national interest.
The substantive case before the Supreme Court was listed for directions hearing yesterday when the application was made.
Meanwhile, an election petition also filed by Liria against O’Neill relating to the same issue of polling on a Sunday plus allegations of bribery and undue influence is before the Court of Disputed Returns.
The petition was adjourned for directions hearing for a date yet to be set by the court.

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