0308 Commissioner Gamato clarifies Gumine Open issue

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato clarified today that the Returning Officer who declared Nick Kuman as Member-elect for Gumine Open electorate in Chimbu and signed the writ was Fredy Yaun and not the late Peter Kalpe.

“I wish to convey my most sincere apologies to the immediate family, relatives and friends of the late Peter Kalpe who was my initial appointed and gazetted Returning Officer for Gumine.”

“It was in fact an error on the part of my officers who prepared my statement for the press conference in not confirming the correct name of the Returning Officer who declared Nick Kuman here in Port Moresby.” 

“I fully retract the statement mentioning my late Returning Officer and once again whole-heartedly apologize on behalf of PNGEC to the immediate family, relative and friends of the late Kalpe.” 

The new Returning Officer for Gumine Open electorate who declared Nick Kuman and signed the writ Fredy Yaun’s appointment was effective as of 26 July 2017. 

Former Returning Officer who wrongly and illegally declared Lucas Dawa Dekene Max Yomba’s appointment was revoked on 26 July 2017.  

Issue of Gumine Open Seat

I have received a full report from the Election Manager for Chimbu Rev. Tom Sine on what actually transpired for Gumine Open electorate.

The count was completed on Wednesday, 26 July 2017.  Mrs. Margaret Tokmun, Assistant Returning Officer for Digine was the supervisor during the count and she called for the results from exclusion number 47 when it was on the board.  She gave the result out and also advised who led after the final exclusion over the absolute majority.  

When declarations were about to be made, a scrutineers namely from Lucas Dawa Dekena raised an issue of a polling place from Kumai-Bomai LLG ward 10, where the Presiding Officer 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 accepted 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 centre. These ballot papers were also being counted at the regional counting centre.

After exclusion number 47, candidate Michael Sipa who was on the third place with 7,172 votes was excluded and his votes were distributed between the lead candidate Nick Kuman and runner up Lucas Dawa Dekena. 

Nick Kuman collected 598 plus his score of 13, 663 which brought his total to 14,261

Lucas Dawa Dekena collected 734 from this exclusion adding to his total of 13,136, bringing his final total score to 13,879

As far as the counting process is concerned, Nick Kuman won with a difference of 391 votes.  This was according to Count Supervisor Margret Tokmun, ARO for Digine.

The decision to remove 412 votes after final elimination from the leading candidate Nick Kuman was the sole decision of the former Returning Officer Max Yomba.

The RO Max Yomba 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 as required under LPV.

The new Returning Officer Fredy Yan then declared Nick Kuman as duly elected Member-elect for Gumine Open electorate before my Deputy Commissioner Simon Sinai here at the Electoral Commission headquarters in Port Moresby on Saturday, 29 July 2017. 

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

Media Consultant

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