Trawen yet to decide

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday July 30th, 2013


ELECTORAL Commissioner Andrew Trawen will decide this week whether to nullify the local level government elections in the highlands region. 

Trawen said the commission was closely monitoring the situation in the three provinces of Western Highlands, Jiwaka and Southern Highlands where reports of illegal activities over the LLG election were rife.

A statement from the commission last week said the hijacking and destroying of ballot boxes and papers plus the damage to polling booths and interfering with polling activities were rife in districts and LLGs in the three provinces. 

The statement said Trawen was considering cancelling the 2013 election in the provinces. 

Trawen did not give other details but said through an email yesterday that the commission would be monitoring the affected LLGs, electorates and provinces in the highlands today and tomorrow before making a decision.

The discrepancies were reported by electoral officers.

The authority by the Electoral Commission to cancel elections is provided under the Organic Law on national and local level government elections (Section 96A Part XIA on Election Cancellations and Failure). 

According to the commission: 

  • Most polling booths in the Poroma LLG of Nipa-Lake Kutubu in Southern Highlands had been hijacked, resulting in the burning of 18 ballot boxes at the police barracks in Poroma; 
  • The same occurred in the Erave LLG, in Kagua-Erave district, Southern Highlands, resulting in most of the boxes being hijacked and taken by candidates (but were later released);
  • Western Highlands polling is currently being conducted but election-related violence has resulted in the destruction of ballot papers. The situation is reported to be beyond control in Mul, Hagen Urban and Rural, Kotna and Baiyer LLGs; and 
  • In Jiwaka, ballot boxes had been hijacked in three  wards at Nondugl LLG but the police pursued the perpetrators and retrieved them.