Polye stays as MP, says court

National

By CHARLES MOI
THE Supreme Court has ordered that Opposition Leader Don Polye will remain Member of Parliament pending a recount of all votes for the Kandep Open electorate in Enga.
Justice Allen David, Justice Jacinta Murray and Justice Fraser Pitpit ,in a unanimous decision, ordered the Electoral Commission to recount all the votes, including votes in the five disputed ballot boxes within 30 days from yesterday.
The Electoral Commission was also ordered to present the results of the recount to the national court.
The judges issued these orders after they upheld some parts of the election petition reviews filed by Polye and petitioner Alfred Manase.
They had found that the trial judge in the national court on May 2 committed an error when he ordered for Polye’s declaration as MP in the 2012 general election to be set aside pending the counting of votes in five ballot boxes initially rejected.
The Supreme Court judges quashed national court’s order because it was deemed premature.
They said an order for a recount of all votes in ballot boxes was necessary in view of the limited preferential voting system (LPV) and the Organic Law on national and local-level government elections.
Manase, the runner up in the 2012 general election to Polye, filed an election petition challenging Polye’s election win.
In the petition, Manase raised four grounds of allegations of errors and omissions by the officers, servants and agents of the Electoral Commission.
He named Polye and the Electoral Commission as respondents.
Justice Joseph Yagi conducted a trial in the national court and 33 witness from the parties gave evidence.
The national court dismissed three grounds in Manase’s petition and upheld only one relating to the five disputed ballot boxes, which were rejected by the Electoral Commission.
It then set aside Polye’s declaration as MP and ordered the Electoral Commission to count the five ballot boxes initially rejected within 30 days.
The five boxes rejected were from the polling stations at Lungutenges No 1, Kombros No 1, Kambia No 1, Maru and Imipiaka in Kandep.
Polye and Manase, aggrieved by Justice Yagi’s decision, filed separate election petition reviews, which were later consolidated.
The Supreme Court after considering submissions from parties and the relevant law found that there were errors made by Justice Yagi in the National Court.
Meanwhile, Polye, in a statement, said he would instruct his lawyers to file a slip rule application against the Supreme Court decision.
Polye called on Manase to be realistic because there was only six months remaining before the issue of writs for the next year’s general election.

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