The Southern Highlands Regional candidates today rebutt to two seperate letters sent from the Electoral Commissioner’s office, to the newly appointed Provincial Returning Officer, Steven Gore Kaupa, to count the 84 disputed boxes for the Regional seat.
The letters are directions from the Electoral Commissioner to count the 84 disputed boxes or he won’t accept a writ for the Southern Highlands Regional Seat.
The candidates came out to the media to clarify that this instructions from EC is misleading as there was a Court Order in place refusing the counting of the 84 boxes.
The two letters dated 22nd and 23rd of August respectively from the Electoral Commissioner, Patalias Gamaro, has directed for the newly appointed Provincial Returning Officer for the Southern Highlands Regional seat, Steven Gore to bring the 84 disputed boxes, which are currently being locked up at Mendi Police station down to Mt Hagen for counting.
The letter stated that there was no court order in place restricting the 84 boxes to be counted.
Gamato warned Gore that if he failed to comply with the letter as the third PRO, Gamato will not receive any writ for the Southern Highlands Provincial Seat.
However, there was a Court decision on the 11th of August, which refused the plaintiff, William Powi’s motion to count the 84 boxes.
The candidates are appealing to the Electoral Commissioner to seek legal advice first as his directions might be in contempt of court.
The new PRO, Gore, also said that he won’t risk his officials and the security forces to go to Mendi to bring the boxes to Mt Hagen, unless he receives a Court Order to do so.
Currently, the counting is in its last phase of quality checks and might finish by tonight and elimination will start tomorrow.
The candidates are appealing to Gamato to leave the process to complete and a new leader must be appointed.
The candidates said that if anyone has any grievances can go to the Court of dispute and returns.
They said, like the case of Hagen and Kandep Open where several boxes were not counted and a winner was declared, Gamato needs to consider these events.