Police, scrutineers tussle over selection of boxes

National, Normal


POLICE and scrutineers of candidates for the Kandep by-election yesterday confronted each other at the Goroka police station over selection of boxes to be counted.
Scrutineers complained that the distribution of ballot boxes for counting was not fair when police intercepted.
They complained after certain ballot boxes taken out for counting on Tuesday which they considered as containing votes from their candidates’ stronghold were not taken out for counting yesterday.
The scrutineers wanted to see the same boxes taken out on Tuesday to be counted, but when they saw other boxes they suspected they were from former MP Don Polye’s stronghold areas and so complained.
After the brief tussle with the police, counting began with count 33.
They urged returning officer Simon Sinai to count votes from their candidates’ strongholds at least to see some closer margin in the progressive scores.
In a request paper to Mr Sinai signed by scrutineers of five candidates, they pointed out that there was unfairness in the selection of boxes for counting saying that boxes picked for counting were from former MP Don Polye’s base areas.
“Other candidates also want to be comfortable with the progressive results and it is important that other candidates’ base votes must be counted.
“Progressive results are useful for our comfort and peace, the false allegations levelled against some of our base boxes by other scrutineers are merely to seek chances to hold our boxes at ransom and this should not be entertained,” they said.
Scrutineers Mather Lale (Kenneth Andrew), Kungus Yakap (Bee Pebo), Joseph Karapai (Alfred Manase), Ismael Kunias (Peter Mision) and Sam Philip (Herman L Anep) signed the petition.
According to Mr Sinai, 12 boxes were taken out for counting on Tuesday but due to limited time factor, only five were counted and others were returned to the police station.
Legal adviser to the Electoral Commission Ray Williams urged scrutineers to leave complaints to deal under the normal process.
He said the directive of the Electoral Commission was to set aside the disputed boxes and proceed with the counting.