Pr Kaku requests SHP by-election

The Waigani National Court has reserved its decision to Tuesday, 1st of June 2021 on the Southern Highlands Provincial Election Petition.

Petitioner Pastor Bernard Kaku, the fourth runner up candidate in the 2017 Southern Highlands Provincial seat general elections, is challenging Governor-elect William Powi.

Submissions from legal teams from both sides and the Electoral Commission presented their arguments to Justice David Cannings on Tuesday afternoon.

Lawyer representing Pastor Kaku argued that the Provincial Returning Officer, Steven Kaupa, failed to complete and determine the results of the counting, by prematurely declaring William Powi as the elected leader.

It was also argued that the declaration of results was unclear as Kaupa gave evidence that Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato, made the declaration at the Electoral Commission office in Port Moresby at around 7-8pm on the 27th September 2017, while the writ was signed by him and not Gamato.

In response, lawyer representing William Powi, Allan Baniyamai, argued that the petitioner and his scrutineers played a role in disrupting counting in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province.

Counting of the votes began on 11 July 2017 in Mendi, but due to the volatile situation on the ground, counting had to be moved to Mt. Hagen, in Western Highlands.

With five months away till the 2022 general elections, Pastor Kaku has asked the court to declare the Southern Highlands provincial electorate seat void and a by-election be conducted.

Jemimah Sukbat