By MALUM NALU
RECOUNTING of votes for the Kandep open seat in Enga yesterday was deferred to Tuesday after supporters of Kandep MP Don Polye staged a protest march in Wabag, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said.
A classroom at the Wabag Primary School, where the recount is scheduled to be held, was burned to the ground by arsonists between 3am and 4am yesterday, with one suspect arrested, provincial police commander George Kakas said.
“The judicial recount of ballot papers for Kandep Open electorate will commence on Tuesday, Sept 27,” Gamato said.
“Although counting was set for Thursday, Sept 22, returning officer Alwynn Jimmy advised that there was a public gathering and representation to him demanding that counting should be deferred to allow lawyers to be present to see the opening of the boxes.
“To avoid any unnecessary chaos and problems during counting, I have decided to defer counting.
“I call on the lawyers involved and scrutineers to be present for counting to commence.”
Kakas said up to 2000 Polye supporters marched into town with banners and a petition demanding that counting be deferred for seven days “as they were not notified and that the tactic used by the Electoral Commission to conduct the recount was secretive and not transparent”.
He said the petitioners said although they understood it was a court-ordered recount to be done within 30 days, they were not informed of technical aspects such as:
- Exact date of the recount set by the Electoral Commission after receiving the court order;
- appointment and presence of scrutineers to witness the opening of the containers containing ballot boxes and counting of ballot papers;
- transparent appointment of counting officials;
- need for lawyer to be present to witness the opening of the ballot boxes; and,
- Need for both Polye and petitioner Alfred Manase to be present.