The National, Tuesday July 31st, 2012
By CLEMENT KAUPA
ANOTHER extension to the deadline for the return of writs is likely as counting for the National Capital District provincial seat is still way behind schedule.
This was confirmed by acting returning officer for NCD provincial Ricky Fugonto yesterday.
“As per my assessment, we still won’t make the deadline,” Fugonto said.
He indicated another seven days was required to complete the primary regional counts for Moresby South and Northeast before proceeding to quality checks and the 24 elimination rounds.
As of yesterday, the regional counting centre started on the 100 counts for Moresby South at 1pm while on-going counting for the Moresby Northeast open entered its 40th elimination round.
Fugonto said the Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen was aware of the situation and he would formally request Trawen to take the matter up with the vice-regal today.
Trawen denied being made aware of the NCD provincial counting situation yesterday.
“I am not aware of the situation with the NCD provincial,” he said.
However, he conceded that he was considering extensions for two to three electorates and would look into the NCD provincial as well.
“As long as I advise the governor-general, it should be okay,” the commissioner said in response to a suggestion that another extension might result in the elections being declared failed.
Meantime, progressive scores after elimination round 40 for the only remaining open electorate – Moresby Northeast – stood at 6,074 for leading candidate and incumbent MP Andrew Mald (PNC), runner-up John Kaupa (PNGP) scored 5,955 and Labi Amiau 5,452.
The NCD provincial suffered another delay after counting was a suspended from 1am yesterday when scrutineers walked out over disagreements over count 96 of Moresby Northwest.
At the resumption, at 1pm, only three scrutineers turned up.
“After consulting the Electoral Commission, we resumed counting because it is not a legal requirement that scrutineers are present during counting,” Fugonto said.
At the opening of count one for Moresby South yesterday afternoon, incumbent Governor Powes Parkop was leading with 22,240, followed by businessmen Wari Vele on 12,053 and Michael Kandiu on 9,488.
Chopper owner Robert Agarobe was on 7,377.