My victory was hijacked: Potape

Francis Potape, who alleges his victory was hijacked by foul play by Hela Election Manager John Tipa is calling on the Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato to reject the Writ returned to him by Tipa.

In a media conference today, Potape said Undialu’s election victory is fake because it did not follow proper legal process.

“I am the duly elected Governor by the people of Hela as their Regional Member but have been denied declaration by the Provincial Returning officer,” says Potape.

After the final elimination of the last candidate in the race, Dr Hewali Hamiya, Potape collected 14,642 bringing his total score to 67,435 while Undialu collected 6,741 which brings his score to 65,836.

The figures were recorded on the master tally board in the counting room and were witnessed by all counting officials and scrutineers. Potape showed scanned photographs which proved this.

When the scores were recorded on the master board, the Election Manager John Tipa was then called in to make the declaration.

However, it was alleged that Tipa came into the counting centre drunk and ordered all the counting officials to vacate the counting centre.

Potape said after all the counting officials left, Tipa hand-picked specific counting officials to reopen the boxes and do rechecks.

Potape further stressed that his scrutineers tried to stop Tipa but were told to stop intercepting the process by the security personnel brought in by the Election Manager.

“At around 3pm my scrutineer called me, notifying me of the results and that I would be declared.”

Potape and his supporters arrived at the counting center at around 5pm but were told to wait as Tipa was allegedly still going through some checks.

Its then further alleged that Tipa had instructed Potape and his supporters to go home and return on Monday morning for the declaration.

However, that did not eventuate, as Tipa went ahead and got Undialu to sign the writs without formally making a declaration on Monday morning.

Potape is now calling on Gamato to reject the writ as it was allegedly hijacked.

Loop PNG contacted Gamato regarding the issue but was told that the Election Manager had made the decision.

“The Declaration was done at the counting Centre the next day; that’s according to John Tipa, PRO for Hela. He declared Philip Undialu as member-elect,” Gamato responded to Loop PNG via text message.

Loop PNG again sent questions querying the tally sheet but was told by Gamato to call John Tipa.

Numerous attempts  by Loop PNG to get Tipa to answer the allegations since the declarations have been unsuccessful.

However, Undialu earlier told Loop PNG that counting was still continuing when Potape reached 67,435.

He said there were 6 ballot boxes remaining to be counted when Potape and his supporters moved into the counting Centre to be declared.

Freddy Mou