By JUNIOR UKAHA
COUNTING for the Nawaeb open seat in Morobe was suspended indefinitely yesterday after polling officials demanded their allowances.
Returning officer Bamun Bange told The National that some counting officials, who had also done polling, protested and stopped counting after seeking payment, forcing work to stop at 9am.
Bange said they were on count 32 when they suspended counting.
“I have spoken to the disgruntled officers and they agreed to resume counting as soon their allowances are paid,” he said.
“I have relayed their grievances to the provincial election manager and he has taken up the issue with the (electoral) commission, so I think they should get their allowances soon.”
“We do not want counting to be delayed so we are hopeful their allowances are paid quickly but then again it depends on the process of payment.”
Bange said team leaders of the polling groups were also involved in the counting process so they wanted their polling allowances paid first before counting continued.
He said the polling team leaders were put under unnecessary pressure by their officers who were yet to receive their allowances.
“We have 20 more boxes to count and as soon as we sort out the polling officials, we will continue,” he said.
“We have also advised the scrutineers and they are aware of the suspension.”
Bange said the allowance rate for polling officials was different, depending on what positions they occupied.
He said Pangu Pati candidate Kennedy Wenge was maintaining his lead when counting was suspended.
By JUNIOR UKAHA