The National, Monday July 22nd, 2013
By CLEMENT KAUPA
THE contest for the Lae Lord Mayor’s seat will be close, according to progressive figures released by counting room officials at the Polytech Institute yesterday.
Incumbent James Khay maintained his lead with 2,289 votes on Count 40 with Alfred Paul Piandu on 1,532 and Koim Prilu Lae on 1,410.
With 14 counts remaining for Wards 5 and 6, officials in the counting room said it could be decided on the second count.
Assistant Returning Officer Asigau Tau said they should complete the two wards last night and start the elimination process today.
“I only have tomorrow (today) to complete everything,” Tau said yesterday.
Counting for the Lae Urban LLG picked up pace yesterday with eliminations for Ward 4 and counting for Ward 5 happening concurrently.
For Ward 1, Karere Kumani was declared winner on Thursday. McQueen Douglas and Carol Yawing were declared winners on Saturday night for Wards 2 and 3 respectively. Wards 4, 5 and 6 winners should have been declared last night.
But some candidates claimed that the contest for the mayor’s seat involved bad election practices.
Claiming to speak on behalf of 17 others, candidate Luke Yawau raised issues about the appointment of Lae election officials and other matters.
Yawau claimed the wife of a senior civil servant in Lae contested one of the wards and the city council had undue influence in the appointments.
He also alleged that 4,000 signed but blank ballot papers were in the possession of a candidate.
Mayor James Khay admitted that the blank ballots were with him but denied any illegal practice or intention.
Khay said he confiscated the papers from the streets and had publicly declared their existence to election officials and the police.
Provincial election manager Simon Sinai did not answer calls yesterday for a comment.