1409 Candidates and supporters warned not to disrupt SHP counting

Candidates for the Southern Highlands Provincial seat and their supporters have been warned not to continue disrupting and delaying the counting process. Electoral Commissioner's Delegate and Deputy Commissioner Corporate Services John Kalamoroh warned that perpetrators risk being held for contempt of court and arrested.

"The National Court has ordered the inclusion and count of the 84 disputed ballot boxes locked up at the Mendi police station."

"The people of Southern Highlands have expressed their choices and the electoral process must be respected and allowed to be completed."

"We cannot deprive the electors their right to vote for a candidate of their choice. We must count the 84 boxes," Mr. Kalamoroh said.

"There's absolutely no reason for PNGEC to exclude these 84 ballot boxes, as they contain the choices from the electors."

"No candidate must try to stop this. This is illegal according to election law."

Mr. Kalamoroh warned that if candidates and their supporters continue to disrupt SHP Provincial seat counting process, they can be held for contempt of court and issue with warrant of arrest by the police.

The Waigani National Court on 4 September, 2017 ordered that the 84 ballot boxes for SHP Provincial seat locked up at the Mendi police station to be admitted for counting in Mt. Hagen.

The court's ruling confirmed Electoral Commissioner's final decision to have the 84 disputed ballot boxes included in the count.

Presiding Judge Justice Colin Makail dismissed the motions filed by candidate Joseph Kobol with all other pending motions after the court found that the court proceedings was an abuse of the electoral process.

Makail said that the aggrieved parties should seek the court's assistance regarding election matters only after the election process was completed.

The judge said that the Electoral Commission should be allowed to carry out its duty without any interference because the election for the provincial seat was not completed.

PNGEC lawyer told the court that the Electoral Commissioner should not be subjected to any interference from any authority because the election process was still continuing.

The Commission's lawyer pointed out that the courts should intervene in the operations of the election process only after a Members was elected into office.

He further argued that the counting for the SHP Provincial seat was delayed as a result of the court proceedings which should be dismissed.

Presiding Judge Makail agreed and said that court would allow counting for the seat, including the 84 disputed ballot boxes, to continue because the Electoral Commissioner has made his final decision.

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