This was the Waigani National Court’s ruling today on the case surrounding the legal declaration of the Gumine seat in Simbu Province.
The case returned to court today where a ruling was handed down by Justice Collin Makail on the two applications that were moved on August 15, by lawyers representing Gumine MP, Nick Kuman, and Dawa Lucas Dekena.
Dekena’s lawyer asked the court to restrain Kuman from attending the second parliament sitting, which is tomorrow. At the same time, Kuman’s lawyer also asked the court to dismiss the case, citing an abuse of the court process.
Today, Justice Makail upheld submissions put to court by Kuman’s lawyers and dismissed the case that was filed by Dekena.
He said any dispute relating to or arising out of an election must be brought to court by way of an election petition.
He said Dekena is rightly entitled to question the actions of Kuman and Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato, as he was the first to be declared, because he scored the highest number of votes.
The court said he is also entitled to question the actions of the Electoral Commission and the Returning Officer who declared Kuman, as he was not appointed at the time the writ was issued on 20 April.
It was put before the court that Dekena’s declaration was made at the Kundiawa counting centre by Returning Officer Max Yomba on 28 July, two days after absolute majority of 13,861 was reached. He polled 13,870 while Kuman scored 13,849 votes.
Kuman was declared winner by a Freddy Yuan on July 29 at the Electoral Commission Headquarters, which the court says is highly questionable as it raises serious issues in relation to his appointment as the returning officer.
Justice Makail said the bottom line is that Commissioner Gamato has accepted Kuman’s writ who forwarded it to the head of state and then to the speaker who swore him into office.
For now, Justice Makail said it must be accepted that the electoral process has been completed, and whether there have been flaws, errors, or breaches committed, an election petition is the correct mode of proceeding to enquire into an election.
Meanwhile, Dekena’s lawyer, Dudley Yariyari, indicated outside court they will be filing that election petition.