Poll officials, scrutineers call on Gamato not to delay counting

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COUNTING officials and scrutineers for the Southern highlands provincial seat are calling on the electoral commission no to delay counting any further.
The frustrated officials yesterday gathered at Mt Hagen Council chamber and said that the completion of counting has been delayed for about four weeks already and they has suffered badly as a result.
A counting official and public servant Dr Newton Albert, speaking on behalf of the other 100 counting officials and tally recorders, said some of them were public servants while others worked with private sector and they needed to go back to work and their families.
“Why is the Electoral Commissioner not speeding up the counting process and playing delay tactics to make us suffer in Mt Hagen?”
He said that he did not understand why Electoral Commissioner Patillias Gamato threatened not to sign the writs for the regional seat if the disputed ballot boxes in Mendi were not included for counting.
“Why are some outside people interested in the Southern Hghlands provincial seat and delaying the counting?” he said.
Another counting official, Rose Muna, a nursing sister at Mendi General Hospital, said that they did not want to stay any longer in Western Highlands.
Muna said that they wanted the new provincial returning officer Steven Gore Kaupa who is on duty travel to Port Moresby to return so that they would go through the elimination and declaration.
She said that quality checks were completed last Saturday and they were now ready to go into the elimination.
She said that she missed work for many weeks and her family members back in Mendi were suffering when she was away in Mt Hagen for four weeks.
David Wari, an assistant returning officer for Lower Lai LLG in Mendi-Munhiu district, said that the disputed ballot boxes were set aside by former provincial returning officer Jacob Kurap based on reports provided by polling officials, scrutineers and security personnel.

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