EC fiasco

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The National, Tuesday 4th June 2013

 THE Madang National Court has nullified the election of Madang MP Nixon Duban.

While Duban said on local radio that he would not contest the court’s decision in the Supreme Court, Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen indicated that there was no funding available to conduct the by-election for Madang open.

However, the by-election for the Angoram open seat in East Sepik will be held at the same time as the local level government elections, Trawen said yesterday. 

He made the announcement soon after the court nullified the election of Duban, who is also the police minister. 

The National Court ordered an immediate by-election for the Madang open.

Judge Les Gavara-Nanu told a packed courtroom that petitioner Brian Krammer had sufficient evidence to plead the case and had succeeded.

He said the petition held serious allegations of bribery, attempted bribery and undue influences. 

The bribery allegations were centred on a Lutheran youth camp at Aufan village outside Madang on April 20 last year where Duban was alleged to have given K1,000 to the camp organising committee.

The judge also ruled that a K300,000 cheque presentation, which Duban made to the Yagaum rural hospital on June 11 last year on behalf of the prime minister, and the contents of his speech where he said he was the prime minister’s adviser and “sits in the his engine room” were taken as attempted bribery and undue influence.

Krammer had 11 witnesses who gave evidence while Duban produced five.

Meanwhile, Trawen said by-elections would not be held for South Fly, Kairuku-Hiri and Gumine open electorates because their appeals were still pending in court.

“Treasury has made available K2.1 million to conduct the by-election for the Angoram open seat which was left vacant following the death of Ludwig Shulze. The by-election will be held at the same time as the local level government elections,” Trawen said.

According to public notices in the media, the LLG elections will begin with the issue of writs on Thursday. 

Polling would begin on July 6 and end on Aug 9. 

Writs would be returned to the governor-general on or before Aug 30.

“For the Madang open seat, it is an unbudgeted commitment and indications from the electoral commission are that the staging of a by-election will cost us about K5 million,” Trawen said.

He said discussions were ongoing with the concerned authorities for security operations during the LLG election polling and counting period.

The electoral commissioner said detailed ward listing and polling schedule would be announced and made public before the writs open on Thursday.