0108 Election Update Statement dated 1 August 2017

Issues addressed in this update statement include an update on number of Writs Returned, issue of invitation to form government, response to Dr. Eric Kwa, Gumine Open Seat issue, Southern Highlands Provincial Seat issue and counting for Kandep Open Seat.

Update on Number of Writs Returned

Yesterday, Monday 31 July 2017 at 3pm, I’ve returned 19 more writs to the Head of State, His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Bob Dadae. The 19 writs returned yesterday afternoon were for the following declared seats:


  1. Moresby North East Open
  2. Western Provincial
  3. Middle Fly Open
  4. North Fly Open
  5. South Fly Open
  6. Morobe Provincial
  7. Bogia Open
  8. Middle Ramu Open
  9. West Sepik Provincial
  10. Enga Provicncial
  11. Lagaip-Pogera Open
  12. Wabag Open
  13. Wapenamanda Open
  14. Obura-Wonenara Open
  15. Kerowagi Open
  16. Jimi Open
  17. Imbonggu Open
  18. Mendi Open
  19. Western Highlands Provincial

Straight after this press conference I will return five (5) more writs for the following electorates:


  1. Gumine Open
  2. Nipa-Kutubu
  3. Usino-Bundi
  4. Jiwaka Provincial
  5. Kagua-Erave

By this afternoon, the total number of writs returned to the Head of State will be 105 – last week Friday 28 July 81 writs, yesterday 19 writs and today 5 writs.

This now leaves only six (6) electorates that are still counting. And they include: 


  1. Chimbu Provincial
  2. Kundiawa-Gembogl Open
  3. Eastern Highlands Provincial
  4. Kandep Open
  5. Southern Highlands Provincial
  6. Madang Provincial

 Issue of Invitation to Form Government

A lot has been said on this issue in the mainstream media as well as on the social media.

Let me make it clear that under the Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates, it is the responsibility of the Electoral Commissioner to advise the Head of State on the number of political parties, and the party that wins the most number of seats on the date fixed for the Return of Writs which was last week Friday 28 July 2017. 

The Registrar of Political Parties, Dr. Alphonse Gelu, has been closely watching the electoral process and has also been an active analyst on the media.  To sit back and watch without advising me as Electoral Commissioner and a Board Member of IPPCC is not unacceptable and not in the best interest of the Commission. 

It was incumbent on him as Registrar to come and advise the Electoral Commissioner, who is a board member of the Integrity of Political Parties & Candidates Commission (IPPCC). 

As administrator of the Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties & Candidates, Dr. Gelu should have made his business to advise the Electoral Commissioner to advise the Head of State. 

Unfortunately, the Registrar of Political Parties did not do that. It was surprising that he did not or failed to liaise with me as Electoral Commissioner about the whole process. 

As a result, I had to advise the Head of State on 28 July 2017 to invite the party with most number of seats won to form government. 

At that time (Friday 28 July 2017), 81 writs were returned to the Governor General which is more than half of the 111 Seats in Parliament. 

I had to consult the State Lawyers including the Secretary for Justice and Attorney General plus the Solicitor General before returning the 81 writs last Friday. 

The last day fixed for the Return of Writs as extended by the Head of State was last Friday 28 July 2017.      

Response to Dr. Eric Kwa’s Comments

Now, I would like to make a reply to comments made by the Secretary for Constitutional & Law Reform Commission Dr. Eric Kwa that the Return of Writs last Friday 28 July was void and that the invitation from the Head of State to People’s National Congress Party to form government was ‘illegal’. 

My response is that I reject those statements by Dr. Kwa. The reasons being: 

  • The advice received from State Lawyers in order for the Electoral Commissioner to return the 81 writs on the date fixed for the Return of Writs which was last Friday 28 July 2017.

     

  • The Ombudsman Commission sought extension of time for electorates still counting and the Supreme Court recognized Powers of the Electoral Commissioner under Section 81(3) of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections; and that for a general election, the Electoral Commissioner has the DISCRETION to extend time after the initial extension by the Head of State.

Up to now, I am still returning writs and will still allow those electorates still counting to continue count and make their declarations. 

I must make it very clear here that I, as Electoral Commissioner, am restricted by the anniversary of the current term of Parliament and requirements to call Parliament within time. 

Hence, the Return of Writs last week Friday 28 July 2017 is legal and proper

Issue of Gumine Open Seat 

I have received a full report from the Election Manager for Chimbu on what actually transpired for Gumine Open Electorate.  The count was completed on Wednesday, 26th July 2017.  Mrs. Margaret Tokmun, ARO for Digine who was the supervisor during the count and she called for the results from exclusion no. 47, when it was on the board.  She gave the result out and also advise who led after the final exclusion over the absolute majority.  

When declarations were about to be made, a Scrutineers namely from Dawa Lucas raised an issue of a polling place from Kumai Bomai LLG ward 10, where the PO signed two different signatures on the ballot papers.  Ward 10 Keru from Kumai Bomai LLG had a total of 713 ballot papers.  Of this, a total of 412 open ballot papers were accept for counting because it bore the signature as that found in the Journal.  Meanwhile the same number of regional papers was transferred to the regional counting center.  These ballot papers were also being counted at  the regional counting center.  

After exclusion no. 47, candidate Michael Sipa who was on the third place with 7, 172 votes were distributed between the lead candidate Nick Kuman and runner up Dawa Lucas Dekena.  Nick collected 598 plus his score of 13, 663 brought his total to 14,261.  Meanwhile, Dawa Lucas Dekena collected 734 from this exclusion.  Adding to his total of 13, 136, his final total score was at 13,879.  As far as counting process is concerned, Nick Kuman won with a difference of 391 votes.  This was according to Count Supervisor Margret Tokmun, ARO for Digine. 

Decision to remove 412 votes after final elimination from the leading candidate was the sole decision of RO Max Yomba.  The RO did announce to the counting officials and the candidate that he will remove the 412 votes from the lead candidate and go ahead with declaration.  It is wrong to remove votes after the eliminations process. 

After verifying the results in Forms 66A & 66B, it was found that the eliminations were in order where Nick Kuman scored the required absolute majority of 50% + 1 and the RO Peter Kalpe declared Nick Kuman as duly elected Member-elect for Gumine Open electorate before my Deputy Commissioner Simon Sinai. 

So now, I recognize Nick Kuman as the duly elected Member-elect for Gumine Open electorate in Chimbu Province.    

Issue with Southern Highlands Provincial Seat 

On the issue of Southern Highlands Provincial Seat, the status is that there are a total of 650 ballot boxes for the Seat. 

So far, 462 ballot boxes have been counted whilst 188 boxes remained uncounted. 

The total number of ballot papers counted in the 462 ballot boxes stand at 306,772. 

Absolutely Majority calculated is 153,386. 

The top three (3) candidates are as follows:

  1. William Powi – 91,745 votes
  2. Joseph Kobul – 60,131 votes
  3. Jerry Kivai – 40,411 votes

The Provincial Returning Officer Jacob Kurap came with the above figures to Port Moresby and asked me as Electoral Commissioner to declare William Powi as Member-elect for Southern Highlands Provincial. 

I refused to declare William Powi on the basis that Powi did NOT achieve the absolute majority of 50% + 1 as required under LPV. 

While at the same time, I recognized that Southern Highlands Provincial Seat has got some law and order issues including killings and threatening of the life of the Provincial Returning Officer Jacob Kurap. 

I have made the decision that counting for Southern Highlands Provincial Seat will continue and complete all the remaining 188 ballot boxes and those ballot boxes objected to be identified and set aside. 

As such, I have NOT recognized William Powi as duly elected Member-elect for Southern Highlands Provincial Seat simply because the counting process has not been completed. 

And as of yesterday, Monday 31 July 2017, I have appointed an Acting Provincial Returning Officer in Michael Ariando who’s the Returning Officer for Ialibu-Pangia Open electorate to continue counting, complete and make declaration. 

Furthermore, I am aware that the Election Manager for Southern Highlands David Wakias has gone outside of Electoral Commissioner’s powers to appoint a new Provincial Returning Officer and they have counted about 33 or 34 boxes. 

I must make it very clear that this is ILLEGAL and so when Michael Ariando takes over the count, he will do quality check on those 33 or 34 boxes and continue to count the balance. 

I have consulted with the Police Commissioner Gari Baki and he has assured me to beef up security personnel in Mendi to allow counting for the Southern Highlands Provincial Seat to continue and conclude. 

Having said that, I now strongly appeal to all the candidates for Southern Highlands Provincial electorate to be patient and allow the counting process to be completed. 

Kandep Counting 

Finally, with regards to counting for the Kandep Open electorate currently being conducted in Wabag, I have also asked the Police Commissioner Gari Baki to increase security manpower on the ground for counting to be completed. 

PNGEC will do the same for other six (6) electorates that are still counting. 

And that concludes my media briefing for this afternoon.

Thank you.




ALPHONSE MUAPI
Media Consultant

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