Kandep recount starts tomorrow, says EC

Re-counting of ballot boxes in the Kandep open seat will begin tomorrow, Tuesday Sept 20, in Wabag town, lawyer representing Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato told the court today.

Parties representing Don Polye, Alfred Luke Manase and the Electoral Commissioner appeared before Justice Stephen Kassman of the Supreme Court this morning.

Polye filed an urgent application on Sept 15 seeking to have the Supreme Court stay the recount that is set to start tomorrow.

His lawyers appeared in an urgent Supreme Court sitting yesterday (Sunday) however, the matter could not proceed to a hearing as other parties were not aware of the application. It was adjourned to this morning.

Following the three-judge Supreme Court bench’s ruling on Sept 6 ordering a re-count of all ballot boxes, Polye also filed a slip rule application that will have to go back before the same bench that issued the orders.

The slip rule application could not be heard today as one the judges who sat on that bench is not available. For the slip rule application, leave has to be granted first by at least a member of the Supreme Court bench that issued the order before it can be heard.

The urgent application seeking to stay the re-count, which is set to start tomorrow, will return to court at 1.30pm.

Justice Kassman told parties to establish with supporting case laws if he, as a single Supreme Court judge, has jurisdiction to deal with the urgent application and if so, show if he can hear the application when he is not a member of the three-judge Supreme Court bench that issued orders for a re-count.

The Electoral Commission lawyer is also expected to come back at 1.30pm and confirm when that re-count will start tomorrow.

On Sept 6, Justices Allen David, Jacinta Murray and Frazer Pitpit, in a unanimous decision, quashed order 1 of the National Court Election Petition on May 1 that set aside Polye’s election as member elect for Kandep Open seat. 

The Supreme Court also ordered the Electoral Commission to conduct a re-count of the ballot papers within the next 30 days.

The high court also found that the setting aside of Polye’s election as member elect for Kandep Open was pre-mature and that the trial judge erred by issuing that order.

This was due to the fact that the use of the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system is currently being used in general elections. 

Polye will remain as member elect for Kandep Open pending the outcome of the recount.