Counting in Goroka due to security fears

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THE counting of ballots for the Kandep Open by-election will take place in Goroka this week.
Some 74 ballot boxes were transported out of Kandep via Mt Hagen under tight police security into Goroka yesterday.
Assistant Police Commissioner Highlands region, Simon Kauba, confirmed that the counting venue has been shifted to Goroka.
He said because of the security threats in Kandep, the counting venue was initially changed to Mt Hagen. But the Electoral Commission in a last-minute decision changed the venue again to Goroka over the weekend.
Eastern Highlands provincial police commander, acting Chief Supt Augustine Wampe, yesterday confirmed the engagement of 300 policemen to transport the ballot boxes to Goroka and their deployment at the counting venue.
Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen is believed to have directed the change of the counting venue from Kandep to Mt Hagen and now to Goroka.
Previously, it was agreed that counting would be done in Kandep.
But violence and security threats caused the polling and counting officials to demand that the venue be changed.
Counting officials opted for counting to take place out of Kandep after they witnessed several clashes involving high-powered firearms between supporters of rival candidates.
The change of the venue has irked some candidates who want the Electoral Commission to tell them the reason for the change of venue to Goroka.
Candidates Luke Alfred Manase, Peter Mision Yaki and Be Pepo held a press conference in Mt Hagen yesterday calling on Mr Trawen to tell them the reason for the change of venue.
Attempts to get comments from Mr Trawen yesterday were unsuccessful.
The return of writs for the by-election is set for Dec 11.