Highlands News Your Vote 2017

North Waghi Candidates Protest Against Electoral Commission’s Decision

More than 10 candidates and their supporters from the North Waghi Open seat, staged a peaceful protest march in Banz town.

Those protesting, gave a 24-hour ultimatum to Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato, to revoke the appointment of the Returning Officer, and reverse a decision he had made yesterday regarding count 5 out of the 6 ballot boxes which were disputed at Kerowil Defense Barracks in Jiwaka.

Hundreds of supporters and their candidates were carrying placards and chanting as they made their way to Banz Police station, calling on Commissioner Gamato to destroy the 6 disputed ballot boxes.

The disputed ballot boxes were from Bolba 1 and 2, Tolu 1 and 2, Kendu 1 and 2, Kapalku 1 and 2 and Ngumbkora.

The North Waghi candidates alleged that supporters of the sitting MP, Fabian Pok,  rigged the voting process by controlling polling booths and preventing voters of opposing candidates from voting.

They also alleged that polling was illegally held under the residence of military personnel at the Singirok Army Barracks.

An amateur video leaked on social media showed what appears to be the illegal casting of votes. Candidates who took part in the protest also petitioned the Electoral Commissioner in relation to the video.

Mr. Gamato said, that from advice provided to him by the State Solicitor, the amateur video only shows one particular polling booth, which was from Kendu 1, and showed nothing of the other 5 boxes.

Mr. Gamato had ordered the Returning Officer to count the 5 boxes; however, the candidates said the amateur video proves that the other 5 boxes were tampered with, because there was no footage of the ballot boxes at the time the video was taken.

The North-Waghi candidates also blamed the Jiwaka Provincial Steering Committee for changing the polling stations of 9 council wards to a central location at Singorok Defence Force Barracks in Kerowil.

Counting for North-Waghi has been suspended till the candidates receive a favorable response.

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