By ZACHERY PER
FORMER Kandep MP Don Polye appears set to retain the seat he lost in court about five months ago.
Mr Polye has all but secured the absolute majority required under the limited preferential voting (LPV) system to be declared the winner.
With votes in only two ballot boxes remaining to be counted, Mr Polye has 53.1% of the primary votes.
At the end of the 69th count last night in Goroka, Mr Polye had polled 18,621 votes after the box from Lakis was counted.
His main challenger Luke Alfred Manase was in second place with 8,018 votes (22.9%).
Others in the top five were Herman L Anep (3,018 votes), Bee Pepo (2,546 votes) and Kenneth Andrew (1,500 votes).
Votes that remain to be counted are from the two disputed boxes for Pulyamagara (box 33) and Lugutenges 2 (box 20).
Mr Polye’s supporters and scrutineers are expected to object to one of the boxes being counted.
“If that happens, the seat is secured for Mr Polye without the need to go into the elimination process,” a Polye camp spokesman said.
Returning officer Poevare Tore, who was not involved in the counting process, is being recalled and is expected to fly to Goroka to make the formal declaration today.
Supporters of Mr Polye were already in a celebrative mood in their camp in Goroka last night.
Simbu National Alliance branch president Garry Eremuge said good, colourful leadership was lacking in the Highlands after the demise of firebrand politician, the late Sir Iambakey Okuk.
Mr Eremuge said Mr Polye had the calibre and credentials to provide that.
Mr Polye appealed to his supporters to allow peace and unity to prevail, and thanked the people of Eastern Highlands province, especially political leaders, for allowing counting to take place in Goroka.