108 seats yet to be declared –PNG Electoral Commissioner Sinai

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-About 108 seats are yet to be declared in Papua New Guinea with nine days the return of writ date.

The PNG Electoral Commission expects at least five more seats to be declared by end of the week and more by next week.

However, Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai said they are racing to declare more seats in the coming days and assured that as polling has ended and counting progresses throughout the country more seats are expected to be declared.

So far, 10 seats have been declared which are Tari Pori- James Marape, Pangu Party leader and caretaker prime minister;
– Lae Open- John Rosso, Pangu, caretaker deputy PM;
– Hela Regional- Governor Philip Undialu, Pangu;
– KomoHulia- Daniel Tindipu, Pangu;
– Rabaul Open- Graham Rumet, Pangu;
– Magarima- Manasseh Makiba, Pangu;
– Kavieng Open-Ian Ling Stuckey- Pangu;
– Pomio- Elias Kapavore, PNC;
– Ialibu Pangia-Peter O’Neill – Leader of PNC;
– Koroba Lake Kopiago- William Bando, URP and,
– New Ireland Regional – Sir Julius Chan – PPP.

“As I have said before, counting will start and finish at different times in different places,” he said.

“The electoral law provides for counting to begin as soon as polling is finished in an open or provincial electorate.

All provinces are now counting and we should declare seats in the coming days. Our goal at the Electoral Commission is to return the 118 electoral writs on time and by 29 July to the Governor-General.

“The EC has introduced innovations, including the LLG-based count stations and results transmission system to ensure efficiency and transparency.”

The Post-Courier has been told legal advise is being sought for electorates that have had so much issues and problems.

Meanwhile, Police are investigating a written complaint from a candidate in the Ialibu-Pangia Open electorate in the Southern Highlands, including witness statements alleging, among others, that more than 12,500 ballot papers for the Kagua Erave open electorate had been hijacked during polling and stuffed in the ballot boxes for the nearby Ialibu-Pangia electorate.

“There are issues with these ballot papers and it needs to be cleared by the Electoral Commissioner,” police chief David Manning said.

“The ballot papers are from the Kuare (LLG) boxes. If cleared by the Electoral Commission then all good, but it does require him to make a decision and disseminate it to the commission in Southern Highlands.”

According to information received, a letter was sent to Mr Manning’s office alleging the use of wrong ballot papers in 10 wards of the Kuare LLG affecting 12,551 voters.

Further information received pointed out that when the papers belonging to Kagua-Erave were discovered, the presiding officers were told to cross out the “Kagua-Erave” label and to write “Ialibu-Pangia” on them.

The ballot boxes with mixed papers inside were then allegedly taken to Ialibu for counting.

However, MP for Ialibu-Pangia and leader of the People’s National Congress, Peter O’Neill said: “The National General Election has been a shambles with lives lost and property destroyed yet, the Police Commissioner has time to lodge a complaint, without any evidence, with the Electoral Commissioner calling for ballot boxes in Kuare LLG, Ialibu Pangia to be withdrawn from counting.

“The (police) commissioner in a letter to the electoral commissioner states that he is acting on a complaint from Pangu Pati candidate, Stanley Liria and drops the name of the Prime Minister, leader of Pangu Pati,” O’Neill said.

“It would seem very clear to any reasonable person that this letter from the Police Commissioner is nothing more than a veil for Pangu Pati and is biased and designed only to interfere in what has been a peaceful and properly conducted polling and counting so far in Ialibu Pangia.

“It is difficult for Pangu Pati to accept perhaps that after the reported K20 million spent during the campaign period by their candidate to secure the Ialibu Pangi electorate, that the people of Ialibu Pangia are not so easily swayed.

“The communities where I come from are good people where bribes and alike are not tolerated.

Perhaps they are embarrassed about early counting results and through Manning are trying to alleviate their bruised egos?

“The commissioner should be spending his time on finding the culprits of the murderers of innocent women such as the breastfeeding mother shot dead in Erima last week during election related violence.”

Manning in response to O’Neill said he had written a letter to Sinai to alert him and consider to set aside the boxes.

“A letter I wrote recently to the PNG Electoral Commissioner is now the subject of much debate in the social media, after the Member for Ialibu Pangia O’Neill released a media statement questioning my motives,” Manning said.

“I have no other interest than to ensure that the election is done transparently and in a safe and secure environment.

But we are going against a huge tidal way of so-called leaders who want to get into office by any means possible.

“That letter was copied to the Prime Minister, the Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai, the Ialibu Pangia returning officer, the provincial election manager and other candidates, hence the reference in my letter to Sinai.

“I wrote to the PNG Electoral Commissioner to alert him to the alleged election fraud and for him to consider setting aside the ballot boxes until the allegations could be substantiated.

“While I note that PNG Electoral Commissioner has the final say on administration of the elections and whether or not disputed ballot boxes are set aside, police have constitutional and legislative powers concerning criminal investigations, and laying charges in relation to criminal offences.

“My letter was intended to have the Electoral Commissioner realise something was wrong and only he can make a decision before it becomes subject to a criminal investigation, and worse still, the cause of further violence and bloodshed.

“Police will share the evidence it has obtained for the Electoral Commission to consider and make its decision. We will on the other hand continue with our own investigation as it relates to a criminal complaint of election fraud.
“I was not in contact with the prime minister over this matter and my decision to write to the Electoral Commissioner was based on the merits of the letter of complaint to me and of course on police intelligence reports and eye witness accounts.

“We will continue to do our part to hold the process accountable to all. Ballots have been cast and our challenge now is to ensure counting is conducted securely, safely and as transparently as possible.

“I note that counting of Ialibu Pangia votes has commenced and according to the Electoral Commissioner he had instructed other electorates of Imbonggu and Mendi Minihu to be counted concurrently. We hope to speed up counting of Southern Highlands Province and have the winners declared soon.

“Finally, I appeal to all leaders to respect the process, and government officials who have been tasked to deliver the 2022 National General Election.

The results may not go in your favour, but be a true leader and accept it. Do not blame the process, the electoral officials or the security forces.”.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS