By ZACHERY PER
FORMER Kandep MP Don Polye has regained the seat he lost in a court of disputed return.
Mr Polye polled 18,621 votes, or 53% of the primary votes, to be declared winner of the seat in Goroka yesterday. Because he polled way above the 17,511 absolute majority mark, there was no need to go into the elimination process.
Returning officer Poevare Torre made the formal declaration at the old betting shop counting centre at 2:20pm yesterday.
Mr Torre said the election in Kandep was not the way they expected and blamed the candidates and supporters for all the mistakes.
Acting returning officer Simon Sinai, who took over from Mr Torre to oversee the counting process, described the election as the first in the country to breach all electoral processes.
Mr Sinai said there was turmoil and the scenes in Kandep were ugly with road blocks, political interferences and violence.
“Due electoral processes were seriously breached, however, now we arrive at a stage to fix these problems,” he said.
The comments by Electoral Commission officials were a serious indictment on an election which could yet end up in court.
The declaration was made despite votes in two ballot boxes yet to be counted. They are box 33 for Pulyamagara and box 29 for Lugutenges 2. They are believed to be stronghold areas for candidate Alfred Manase.
Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen issued a direction for the votes not to be counted, reportedly based on reports that there was violence and the boxes were hijacked.
Mr Manase and other candidates on Monday pleaded for the votes in the boxes to be counted, but their plea was turned down.
Manase finished second with 8,018 votes (22.9%).
A beaming Mr Polye, dressed in a suit for the occasion, accepted his declaration.
“The enthusiasm and drive for re-electing me twice in the same term will have to be matched by my dedication and commitment to serving the people, transforming the lives, improvement to well-being and striving for excellence will be my fundamental objective,” Mr Polye said.
“I know I can’t accomplish all or excel in all but God will give me all the strength, wisdom and knowledge to carry my duties diligently,” he said in his declaration speech.
“We have lost the future many times through political rhetoric, quarrels, petty politicking, and struggle for power and wealth.
“We will now correct our mistakes and look forward to the future with rekindled vision and focus,” Mr Polye said.