Somare criticises EC for O’Neill’s early declaration

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The National, Wednesday July 11th, 2012

GRAND chief Sir Michael Somare has criticised a decision by the Electoral Commission to declare Peter O’Neill elected while polling was still in progress in some areas.
In a letter to the commission last week, Sir Michael said: “It is the first time since becoming a member of parliament in 1968 that I lodge a complaint over the Electoral Commission’s arbitrary decision to start early counting while other areas are just beginning to poll votes.
“It is unacceptable that the Electoral Commission itself has not adhered to its own public notice of the revised 2012 general election programme that specifically mentions that counting will commence on July 6.
“The fact that the Electoral Commission has allowed counting to begin earlier in Ialibu-Pangia district, Southern Highland while polling was yet to begin in WHP, Jiwaka, Chimbu and EHP, and for that matter the rest of PNG is a blatant show of bias and flies in the face of all that I have mentioned above.”
NCD Governor Powes Parkop and People’s Labour Party leader Peter Yama have expressed similar concerns.
The commission though remained firm on its earlier stand that section 151 (a) of the Organic Law explicitly states that conduct of scrutiny must commence as soon as voting in the electorate is completed.
“We have not swayed from this and we will abide by this provision of the organic law as we did in previous elections,” Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen said.