Candidate wants fees refunded after ballot dispute

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday July 18th, 2012

A CANDIDATE for the Mendi open electorate is calling on the Electoral Commission to reimburse his nomination fee and election expenses after his ballot boxes were disputed and rejected.
The Electoral Commission ruled polling at Waip and Mariste, in Komo-Margarima, Southern Highlands, had been hijacked despite an earlier ruling by election manager David Wakias and Electoral Commission legal officer Ray William last Saturday.In a written decision, Wakias said polling did not take place at Pendia and Sumbol and that the people did not vote there and he had decided to reject the boxes from being counted.
He said after careful considerations of the complaints submitted by ward councillors and scrutineers of candidates, a ruling was made later on Sunday reversing the previous decision to count the boxes.
However, Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen yesterday afternoon issued instructions that the two boxes in question will not be counted.Wakias said the provincial boundary had changed and that Waip and Mariste were part of Hela.“If the candidates knew that then they should have fixed the issue with the provincial government and the Department of Inter-Government Relations,” he said. “Five years have passed and nothing was done to address the issue and it was not the fault of the Electoral Commission.” But the people and candidates claimed since Pendia and Sobol were destroyed in a tribal fight, the polling place was relocated to Waip and Mariste.  Candidate, Kombaep Pandal said his fees and his expenses must be reimbursed by the Electoral Commission as his two wards were now declared to be part of the Komo-Margarima in Hela.The Mendi open is now into the elimination, starting today.