By ZACHERY PER
COUNTING for the Kandep by-election was thrown into chaos yesterday after angry counting officials bashed assistant returning officer Simon Sinai.
The attack was in relation to non-payment of outstanding allowances.
Yesterday was supposed to be the second day of counting after counting of primary votes for the first five boxes was completed on Tuesday in Goroka.
The assistant returning officers and presiding officers went into hiding after the attack on Mr Sinai.
Mr Sinai was appointed to assist returning officer Poevare Torre last week.
Mr Sinai said he had approached the officials, especially those from the Hela region, and told them that they would receive half of their allowance and get the balance later, when he was bashed up.
The counting was delayed for almost two weeks after changes of counting venues from Kandep to Mt Hagen and then to Goroka over security reasons.
Mr Sinai said he would return to Lae where he was based as the Morobe provincial election manager, if the election officials who went into hiding did not show up by 4.06pm yesterday.
Angry counting officials told The National that the Electoral Commission had paid out enough money for the allowances of security personnel, polling and counting up to Dec 1.
“The money for allowances may have been misused. Mr Sinai is a newcomer.
“He probably had no idea where the money went but was on the receiving end from the angry officials,” an official said.
Sixty-six ballot boxes are yet to be counted, while the first five boxes from Mondopa, Wapi, Pidak 1, Andokoe and Maru were counted on Tuesday.
Ousted MP Don Polye leads the count with a total of 1,510 votes while Luke Alfred Manase is in second spot with 916 votes, followed by Kenneth Andrew with 230 votes.
The rest of the candidates scored less than 100 votes while a good number of them polled no votes.
Around 3,000 votes were counted on Tuesday.