Errors made by polling officer, court told

National, Normal


WESTERN Highlands Governor Tom Olga yesterday blamed the returning officer responsible for the recount of the provincial seat for the alleged errors and omission caused during the recount last year.
Mr Olga’s lawyer Kelly Naru presented his submission yesterday before a three-man bench of the Waigani Supreme Court to review the national court decision that ordered a by-election on the Western Highlands provincial seat late last year.
The successful petitioner is former prime minister Paias Wingti.
Mr Olga’s council, Mr Naru alleged in the submission that the returning officer, Alwyn Jimmy, who was assigned by the court to conduct the recount, had allegedly caused errors and was biased during the recount that took place between last Nov 3 to Dec 13 in Mt Hagen.
Mr Naru submitted that a number of counting officials were allegedly bribed by Mr Jimmy to manipulate ballot papers of Mr Olga and add it on to the petitioners. 
He also alleged that two ballot boxes where counted at a very fast pace and the final figures were in total confusion.
Mr Naru alleged that the trial judge had erred when he ordered a by-election based on what Mr Jimmy presented to court.
He submitted that the trial judge did not consider most of the errors and omission caused during the recount. 
He further submitted that his client won in the 2007 elections and also last year after the recount.
He alleged that Mr Olga beat Mr Wingti with a difference of 1,004 votes after the recount was completed and therefore, Mr Olga should be declared as the winner but instead, the court ordered a by-election.
Council for the electoral commission, Andrew Kongri also submitted that Mr Jimmy made several errors during the recount.
Mr Kongri submitted that Mr Jimmy unlawfully rejected five ballot boxes and the boxes were not counted during the recount.
Mr Kongri further submitted that the trial judge only addressed the evidences and reports presented by Mr Jimmy and did not consider what was pleaded in the petition before handing down the decision.
Mr Wingti’s lawyer, Alfred Manase will present his submissions today.