​Court restraining orders remain for Wapenamanda Open

Two disputed ballot boxes in the Wapenamanda seat, containing a total of 1,833 votes, are to be deducted from the progressive tally, prior to quality check, elimination and declaration of a winner.

The National court on Wednesday evening allowed the extension of these orders, after it issued them on July 22.

Justice Derek Hartshorn allowed the orders to remain after hearing lawyers representing Sitting MP, Rimbink Pato, and the Electoral Commission.

Pato filed the proceeding where he successfully took out the orders, after the court was satisfied on evidence that the two ballot boxes from the Awas and Tuplokores areas were supposed to be set aside from counting as per directions from Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

Gamato, in a direction dated July 19, addressed to the Wapenamanda Election Manager Anton Imau and returning officer, Maku Kopyala, their servants, agents and others under their authority, to deduct the votes counted.

The direction came from Gamato after he was made known of the alleged hijacking of the two ballot boxes.

Pato alleged the boxes were not cast at the designated polling areas.

Gamato issued the direction to set aside the boxes on July 19, however returning officer Kopyala admitted one of the two boxes for counting on July 21.

One of the box was set aside from counting after the court issued the orders on July 22.

The National Court was satisfied that Pato had a serious case to be tried and likelihood of success when it allowed for the orders to continue on Wednesday evening.

As to whether or not a winner has been declared for the seat, it was unknown to the court at the time the orders were issued at 7pm on Wednesday.

Sally Pokiton