Nipa-Kutubu RO says count to proceed

Main Stories, National

The Nationa, Monday July 16th, 2012

NIPA-Kutubu returning officer John Harisol says he will defy Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen’s orders not to count the nine rejected ballot boxes from the electorate.
The nine boxes containing more than 10,000 ballot papers from Upa 1, Embi 1, Pomberel 1 and 2, Ingip 1 and 2 and Merep 1, Yomo 1 and 2 from the Southern Highlands were rejected by the Electoral Commission.
Trawen issued several directives to the provincial electoral manager David Wakias and Harisol not to count the boxes, all from Nembi Plateau and Nipa LLG.
Trawen said after receiving several complaints from scrutineers, polling officials and candidates, he was satisfied polling in those areas were not conducted properly.
Commission lawyer Ray Williams, who was in the province, reiterated the directive to the returning officer, counting officials and scrutineers in Mendi on Saturday that the boxes should be locked away and that the tallies from the rejected boxes be removed.
However, Harisol said that he had conducted a free and fair election and that he would not remove the boxes or stop counting them.
He said that he had completed the primary counts yesterday and figures indicated a very close result between the candidates.
He said that there were no complaints of hijacking and irregular practices and that the people had indicated their choice.
“I have done nothing wrong, and, therefore I’m calling on the people who brought allegations to come out before I continue with the eliminations,” he said.
At of the completion of the primary counts, PNC candidate Jeffery Komal is on 16,445, Philemon Embel 14,181, Steven Andayo 13,581, Tony Kila 11,843 and Stanley Waip 8,534.