WHP recount will not be delayed: Judge

National, Normal


LACK of funding should not be an excuse to hinder or delay the court-ordered recount of votes for the Western Highlands provincial seat, a judge has said.
Justice David Cannings said the Electoral Commission had the power to ask the court to order the Government to provide funds for the commission to carry out its duties.
Justice Cannings said this on Wednesday when refusing an application by parties Tom Olga, Paias Wingti and the Electoral Commission to adjourn a directional hearing to next month.
The Supreme Court ordered that a recount of votes for the 2007 ballot be held following a dispute of the validity of Olga’s win. Mr Wingti is disputing the win.
Justice Cannings had this to say after parties made their applications for adjournment: “Both the petitioner (Paias Wingti) and the third respondent (Tom Olga) have, through their lawyers, requested that today’s directions hearing be adjourned until next month.
“Mr (Andrew) Kongri, for the Electoral Commission, has indicated that ‘funding’ may be a problem in getting the further recount conducted quickly.
“This should not be used as an excuse. The Electoral Commission is a Constitutional institution and has the right to approach the National Court under section 23 for enforcement of the duty of the National Government to provide it with adequate funding for its operations under section 225 of the Constitution.”
The Electoral Commission was ordered by Justice Cannings to appear before him today to advise on the following matters:  
* The appointment of the person responsible for conducting the further recount and other electoral officers and officials.
* The venue for the further recount.
* The date on which it is proposed to commence the further recount.
* The date by which it is proposed to complete the further recount.
* The date by which it is proposed that the result of the further recount will be presented to the National Court for ratification at a hearing of the Court.