Trawen extends deadline for return of writs

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 25th July, 2012

TODAY’S deadline for the return of writs to Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen has been extended.
That also applies to Friday’s deadline when Trawen had scheduled to take the writs to the governor – general.
Friday was widely acknowledged as the absolute final day for the return of all writs.
“Last week, I set the deadline for all the writs to be returned to me tomorrow (today) to give me enough time to go through the election results and to prepare my advice to the governor – general.
 But unfortunately that is not the case now,” Trawen  announced yesterday.
“I will now assess counting in those provinces that are still going on so that I can estimate an appropriate time frame to advise the governor – general accordingly.”
Counting has not been completed in Eastern and Western Highlands, Jiwaka and Chimbu and parts of Enga and Southern Highlands, including some Southern region provinces, such as NCD, yesterday.
The electoral commissioner’s decision comes amidst increasing complaints raised by counting officials in Chimbu and Eastern Highlands over a counting period they considered “inordinately short” and “unrealistic”.
“The delays have been caused in Southern Highlands, Hela and Enga and we cannot be made to pay for the shortfall in the election schedule,” they said.
Meanwhile, Trawen is awaiting legal clarification on a second declaration made for the Imbonggu open seat in Southern Highlands.“I am aware that sitting member for Imbonggu Francis Awesa has been declared according to results on the PNGEC website. “However, I am not aware of the current situation in which a second declaration was made just before midday yesterday where the returning officer nullified the declaration of Francis Awesa and declared Pila Niningi as duly elected member for Imbonggu.
“I am seeking legal clarification on the matter from the PNGEC’s lawyers and will inform you in my next media briefing,” Trawen added.