The National, Friday 17th May 2013
By JAYNE SAFIHAO
ELECTION officials have been given 28 days to conduct a recount of the votes cast in the Usino-Bundi electorate in Madang during the 2012 general election.
Judge David Cannings ruled yesterday, much to the relief of petitioner Peter Yama, that there was enough evidence to prove that there were errors and omissions committed by officers of the PNG Electoral Commission.
The petition was based on:
- Bias and undue influence of electoral officials in particular the returning officer;
- Bias and undue influence by the assistant returning officer;
- Other illegal practices, errors and omissions;
- Failure to conduct polling at designated places and delays, double and underage voting; and
- Illegal practices, errors and omissions at the counting.
Ground three was struck out in earlier proceedings.
Grounds one and two were partially upheld with the latter being struck out entirely for lack of evidence.
Cannings held that despite the petitioner failing to prove facts that would warrant finding of bias or undue influence against the returning officer Steven Biko and his assistant Joe Yama, there was proof that both erred through actions taken by them.
On July 26, Biko had declared a failed election at the counting place in Walium when a fight broke out among supporters of candidates.
He did this on his own accord when he did not have the powers to do so.
The duties and responsibilities of his assistant were questioned.
Cannings said: “The exercise of powers by that officer including conducting the final stages of the scrutiny and declaring the result of the election when he was irregularly appointed and in the absence of all relevant scrutineers are significant.”
He, however, was not convinced that the errors did affect the end result.
But he emphasised that the significance of the errors occurred at critical stages of the election and for the purposes of Section 213 (3) “are just and sufficient” grounds.