The National, Tuesday 10th July, 2012
CHAIRMAN of the Nipa-Kutubu Peace and Good Order Committee Robin Tuna has questioned the real motives of the Southern Highlands Regional candidates to petition and stop the counting of 83 boxes from three of five local level government councils in the district.
Tuna raised the question after yesterday’s report in this paper claiming that the ballot boxes from Nipa Basin, Nembi Plateau and Poroma LLG were disputed.
“I nogat proof (there is no proof),” Tuna said from Mendi.
He added that the move by the candidates was another ‘petty political’ call, and that it was ignored the Nipa-Kutubu peoples vote.
“Lusim counting go het na kisim go long court of disputed returns after declaration na return of writs (Let the counting go ahead and then take it to the court of disputed returns after declarations and return of writs),” a furious Tuna said.
Tuna revealed that returning officer John Harisoal had admitted that he did not personally speak to the Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen or a senior official from the Electoral Commission, and therefore decided not to act on the fax supposedly sent from the commission.
The community leader also warned that a lot of people had voted and had gone back to their villages, and that a delay would only cause for frustration and trouble along the Highlands highway, as the three LLGs were along the highway to the LNG site.
Regional candidates had also petitioned that the polling officials who conducted the elections were not officially endorsed and approved.
Tuna confirmed however that he had sources who had witnessed the official stamping and endorsement of polling officials by provincial returning officer David Warkias.
He also questioned Warkias clear interest in the Nipa/Kutubu ballot boxes.
“People have spoken, free na fair (free and fair).”
EC Trawen had sent a letter addressed to Harisoal directing not to take the ballot boxes from the LLGs concerned into the counting area until appropriately advised, however he had gone ahead, citing no proper communication in person with the office or EC.