Inconclusive results, Hela recount ordered

A recount has been ordered for the Hela Regional seat after the court found inconclusive results in the 2017 General Election which saw Philip Undialu declared governor.

Undialu remains governor for now while the Electoral Commission will have 30 days to conduct the recount.

The election petition trial conducted were over allegations of errors and omission by Electoral officials and the manipulation of the final tally figures which led to the declaration of Undialu on 24 July 2017.

The court found that the conduct of Returning Officer John Tipa led to the inconsistent tally records, because he was absent from the counting room when he was duty bound to supervise the counting.

Justice Joseph Yagi concluded that many of the witnesses told the court the final figure or results declared by Tipa on 24 July 2017 was tampered with as figures were not consistent with form 66B which was signed off on 23 July 2017 when counting ended.

Various witnesses told the court the Returning Officer was not present to supervise counting on 23 July when he was duty bound to do so.

Instead, Tipa arrived after counting had concluded, chased all officers out, including the scrutineer of petitioner, Francis Potape, and carried out ‘Quality Check’ with selected officers.

The forms 66A and B presented in court were inconclusive with the final tally, and ‘highly questionable’ and unreliable for the count to determine.

Since the results were inconclusive, Justice Yagi ordered a recount to be conducted within 30 days, and that the Electoral Commission appoint a neutral Returning Officer and counting officials for this.

The results must be presented to court seven days after recount concludes.

Meantime, in separate press conferences, both leaders appealed for calm and peace in the province.

(Left: Petitioner, Francis Potape)

Sally Pokiton