EC mum on ballot box drama

National, Normal


SCRUTINEERS and counting officials engaged in the Kandep by-election were kept in suspense by the Electoral Commission yesterday waiting for a decision to proceed with the counting.
There was no counting of votes yesterday, the third day of nil activity in the counting room.
Confusion was looming in Goroka whether to proceed or to wait for a decision from the Electoral Commission on the fate of 18 disputed ballot boxes.
According to counting officials last night, counting will commence today with the Electoral Commission to decide the fate of the disputed and the remaining ballot boxes.
There was no counting over the weekend till yesterday, keeping counting officials, scrutineers and supporters in suspense in Goroka.
Counting was suspended last Friday night at the end of count 26 which saw former MP Don Polye leading with 7,980 votes (56.07 %).
Successful petitioner of the Kandep seat Alfred Manase trials in second place with 2,636 votes and Herman Lyamugi Anep in  third place with 1, 506 votes.
Votes in 45 ballot boxes remain to be counted.
This includes the 18 ballot boxes which are under dispute.
Meanwhile, candidates Mr Manase, Herman L Anep, Peter Mision, Bee Pebo, Moses Liu and Kenneth Andrew, wrote to returning officer Simon Sinai alleging that the boxes taken out of the containers at the police station for counting were from their rival Don Polye’s strong-hold.
They accused the Electoral Commission staff of being unfair in their selection of boxes.
“Even though we are comfortable with your overall performance in smooth counting process, you stand to be accused of being biased in selecting ballot boxes that contains Don Polye’s stronghold voted,” the statement reads.
The writ for this by-election will be returned to the Governor-General on Friday.