The National,Friday July 13th, 2012
By ABIGAIL APINA
COUNTING at Maltech Secondary School for the Rabaul open seat resumed yesterday with count five after it was suspended on Wednesday.
The suspension followed allegations of nepotism and foul play by scrutineers.
Returning officer Aaron Maramun confirmed at midday yesterday that counting resumed at 8am and that all scrutineers and polling officers were at the counting venue before time.
He said all issues were addressed on Wednesday by provincial electoral manager Terrence Hetinu and the provincial election steering committee to allow counting to resume, with three boxes expected to be counted yesterday.In Kokopo, counting that was suspended at 11.45am on Wednesday, is expected to resume later today or tomorrow morning.
Provincial election steering committee chairman Clement Irasua said candidates and scrutineers demanded a recount on Wednesday.He said it was impossible as recounts could only be ordered by the electoral commissioner or by the court.But, he said, after an urgent meeting by the provincial electoral commission and the steering committee on Wednesday night, an agreement was reached to allow a recheck and audit of ballot papers to be done as soon as an independent counting team was established and finalised.
He said the independent team would be made of 15 counting officials from Gazelle open and 15 counting officials from Rabaul open.He said they would recheck box one to box seven before counting resumed with box eight and the rest.Irasua said Kokopo counting officials would be present when the audit was done so they could provide explanations when required by the independent team.
Irasua expressed great concern over security arrangements after it was reported that counting officials at the Vunapope Diocesan Hall received threats from people outside the venue on Wednesday.
Irasua said people had the right to visit counting venues to receive updates but it was improper and disrespectful of them to threaten counting officials and to use abusive language.
He appealed to the people to remain calm and ensure counting officials were respected and not intimidated.