By ISAAC NICHOLAS
FORMER Madang governor James Yali will not contest the Rai Coast by-election.
His attempt to nominate on Tuesday was rejected by the Electoral Commission (PNGEC).
Five candidates have nominated to contest the Rai Coast by-election.
Mr Yali had reportedly paid his K1,000 fees into the PNGEC Bank South Pacific account when nominations opened last Friday.
Officials said Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen had issued instructions against Mr Yali nominating following advice from the commission’s lawyers.
Rai Coast by-election returning officer Mark Pamaraka was also advised of the directive and turned away Mr Yali when he turned up with his supporters to nominate at the Saidor district office on Tuesday. Electoral Commission officials yesterday said Mr Yali was on parole and could not nominate.
Mr Yali was convicted in 2005 and jailed for 12 years for rape. He was released on parole last month.
According to reports filed on his behalf, Mr Yali behaved exceptionally while in prison, speaking to prisoners against jail break and crime, and advocated change.
A prisoner released on parole is still a prisoner and is barred from contesting the elections. Mr Yali could only contest if he was pardoned.
Only the Prime Minister and the NEC can pardon him.
Soon after his release, Mr Yali was seen with the Prime Minister at the Divine Word University, prompting speculations he could be pardoned in time for the by-election.
Mr Yali stunned the nation when he was allowed to nominate as a candidate for Rai Coast while still a prisoner in 2007, and won the seat.
He was disqualified when the Supreme Court confirmed his conviction.
Niuro Sapia was elected to the seat in the ensuing by-election, but died from an illness last year.
This by-election is being held to fill this vacancy.
Meanwhile, the ruling National Alliance (NA) party and its coalition partner, People’s Action Party (PAP), have nominated their candidates.
Fifty-two-year-old James Gelak Gau will run under the NA banner while Bob Bopiang Kowak will run for PAP.
NA officials were in Rai Coast on Tuesday to witness Mr Gau nominate.
Five candidates have so far nominated to contest the seat. Polling would start on April 17 and ends April 23.
Writs are expected to be returned on or before May 14.