Court orders Electoral Commissioner to make decision on ‘failed 2013’ LLG elections

The Waigani National Court has issued direction for the Electoral Commission to make separate decisions for each of the wards from the ‘failed’ 2013 Local Level Government Ward elections.

The election of Presidents and Ward members of the Local Level Governments in 2013 were declared ‘failed elections’ by the Electoral Commission on August 15, 2013.

It was declared failed elections in a blanket decision on grounds of widespread corruption and illegal practices at polling and counting venues, 15 days before the date fixed for the Return of Writs of Aug 30, 2013.

A National Gazette notice was issued on Oct 7, 2013 however it did not specify which wards were subject to that decision. 

This blanket decision later became the subject of a Special Constitutional Reference under sec 19 of the Constitution before the Supreme Court.

On Aug 29, 2014 the Supreme Court made a blanket decision that the Electoral Commission has a duty to exercise the power to declare an election failed and make separate decisions for each wards.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in 2014 said this is because a separate writ is issued for each ward and it requires a separate decision to be made to fail the election of each ward.

This resulted in candidates from 10 LLGs commence judicial review proceedings in the National court to question the Electoral Commission’s propriety and reasonableness in declaring the 2013 LLG elections a failed one.

Those who sought judicial review are presidents and LLG Ward members purportedly elected from the Ialibu Basin and Kagua Rural LLGs in Southern Highlands, Goroka Urban and Gahuku Rural LLGs in Eastern Highlands, North Waghi LLG in Jiwaka and Hagen Urban, Hagen Rural, Mul, Muglamp and Kotna LLGs in the Western Highlands Province.

Justice Collin Makail today directed the Electoral Commission to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision delivered on Aug 29, 2014 and make separate decisions for each LLG wards from the 2013 ‘failed election’.

He said the onus is now on the Electoral Commission to take that step and “It must, without further delay, make separate decisions to fail the election for each ward. This will require it to reconsider the ‘blanket’ decision of Aug 15, 2013 and decide whether the election of each ward member within the LLG including that of the President should be failed”.

Justice Makail refused the orders sought in the judicial review applications filed and directed the Electoral Commission to make separate decisions for each ward as it has yet to comply with the Supreme Court decision of Aug 29,2014.

Picture: Loop PNG file picture of PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

Sally Pokiton