H’lands polls under threat

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday July 29th, 2013


ELECTORAL Commissioner And­rew Trawen is under pressure to nullify the 2013 local level government elections in the Highlands region be­cause of illegal activities and malpractice. 

A statement from the Electoral Commission yesterday said Trawen was seriously considering the possibility of nullifying the elections in the affected LLGs, electorates and provinces and withdrawing the election writs under Section 96A Part XIA (Election Cancellations and Failure) of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Governments. 

The provinces high with discrepancies are Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Jiwaka. 

The statement indicated that “pressure is mounting on the commission to exercise its powers under the Organic Law on national and LLG election to take appropriate action on LLGs and electorates in the Highlands where undemocratic activities in recent days and weeks have jeopardised the theme of free, fair and safe elections”. 

Attempts to get comments from Trawen yesterday were unsuccessful. 

According to the statement, the electoral officers on the ground in these provinces reported that there were high incidences of hijacking and destroying of polling booths by candidates in Poroma and Erave LLGs in Southern Highlands, uncontrolled election related violence resulting in destruction of ballot papers and continued fights interferring with polling postponed in Mul, Hagen urban and rural, Kotna and Baiyer LLGs. 

In Jiwaka, ballot boxes had been hijacked in three wards at Nondugl LLG but the police pursued the perpetrators and retrieved them.