RO steps in for Hagen

Main Stories

A LAWYER has told the Supreme Court in Waigani that the Electoral Commission has directed Western Highlands returning officer (RO) Joseph Mangbil to accept nominations for the Hagen Open.
Lawyer Larsen Tangua representing Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai made this known to Justice Derek Hartshorn, who presided as a single Supreme Court judge in Waigani yesterday.
Tangua said Mangbil had stepped in to accept nominations until the issue of the RO’s appointment for Hagen Open was resolved in court.
Tangua also said he had filed another application to stay a National Court interim injunction taken out by incumbent Hagen MP William Duma on May 12.
The National Court order of May 12 had:

  • RESTRAINED the Electoral Commission from appointing Willie Ropa as the returning officer (RO) for Hagen Open; and,
  • RECOGNISED Amos Noifa as the duly appointed RO for Hagen Open.

However, lawyer Tumun Kuma who represented Duma argued that Tangua, who is from a private law firm, did not get approval from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) to represent Sinai.
Kuma told the Court that Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Pila Niningi had to sign off on the approval.
However, Tangua maintained that he did get approval from DJAG and that DJAC secretary Dr Eric Kwa had signed off on the approval.
However, Justice Hartshorn ordered both lawyers to get further instructions from their clients and return to court today.
Sinai’s first application for stay was refused by the Supreme Court on Tuesday after the court ruled that Sinai did not get approval from DJAG to get a private law firm to act for him.
The case stems from the National Court where Duma filed a case earlier this month questioning two different RO appointments for the Hagen Open.
Duma, in his case before the National Court, contends that elections in Hagen Open would be affected because there was one gazette naming Noifa as RO and another gazette which named Ropa.
Duma through his lawyer Kuma then successfully obtained a stay order in the National Court on May 12.
That matter is still pending in the National Court.
While that matter was pending in the National Court, Sinai filed his application for stay and appealed in the Supreme Court.