By Malum Nalu
Southern Highlands regional and Kundiawa-Gembogl remain the only two seats to finish counting, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said yesterday.
This follows the completion of Kandep and Eastern Highlands regional at the weekend.
Gamato said counting for Southern Highlands regional was moved to Kimininga in Mt Hagen because of ongoing lawlessness, while for Kundiawa-Gembogl open, there was a court order issued to count two boxes that were set aside by the returning-officer.
He said he had moved Southern Highlands counting after consulting Police Commissioner Gari Baki.
“The reason for such move is because there have been a lot of threats, gunshots, intimidation and killings,” Gamato said.
“Last week, I rejected a request from (incumbent) William Powi for early declaration for his counts after he was leading.
“I said counting for Southern Highlands must be done properly so that we can find a winner,” Gamato said.
“These violence, threats, intimidations and killings are instigated by supporters of candidates.
“I want to appeal to the candidates of Southern Highlands and their supporters to respect the electoral process so that we can continue and find their elected leader from the counting process.
“Resorting to violence, threats and intimidation is not good and uncalled for in our democracy.
“It cannot produce better outcomes.
“For all fairness, I expect commonsense and sanity to prevail in these difficult times in Southern Highlands, especially in Mendi.”
For Kundiawa-Gembogl, there was a court order issued to count two boxes that were set aside by the returning officer.
“I have directed the returning officer to ensure that those two boxes are re-counted,” Gamato said.
By Malum Nalu