The National, Friday July 26th, 2013
By FRANCIS POKA
ELECTION officials have reported that 10 ballot boxes were hijacked in the Erave local level government in Southern Highlands.
In a separate incident, a group of armed men destroyed one LLG council ballot box containing 852 ballot papers.
Erave assistant returning officer Graham Noiyo said candidates and supporters armed with high-powered guns stopped a vehicle hired by the PNG Electoral Commission and removed the 10 ballot boxes containing unmarked ballot papers.
He said no police units were present. He then called the police mobile unit based in Mendi to assist.
With a police escort, he went to the candidates and supporters and asked them to return the ballot boxes but they refused. They later took them to the Imbonggu district office.
He said he would discuss with the provincial election manager David Wakias to declare a failed election in all Erave LLG council ward areas.
Kagua-Erave MP James Lagea also condemned the actions by the candidates and their supporters.
He said Erave district was known as one of the peaceful places with the national election held there without any problems.
He will discuss with provincial election manager whether to conduct fresh elections in Erave.
“This time, I will arrange security and we will conduct a peaceful election,” he said.