​Former RO speaks on Tonde incident

More than one month after the Joe Tonde incident, the election official in the centre of the scandal has spoken up for the first time.

Former returning officer (RO) Moka Havara revealed to Loop PNG that he declared the 2017 national elections Moresby North-West candidate, Tonde, out of frustration.

​On Thursday, July 27, Havara illegally declared Tonde as member-elect at a hotel in Port Moresby, hours after Sir Mekere Morauta’s declaration.

Havara could not be located that morning to declare Sir Mekere after he surpassed the absolute majority.

In his absence, Bale Kavanamur was appointed returning officer, where he declared Sir Mekere at the Rita Flynn court.

Havara clarified that he suspended counting in the early hours of Wednesday, July 26, “for my counting officials and scrutineers to rest after two days and two nights of non-stop counting”. Counting was supposed to resume at 10am.

However, during that time, his pregnant daughter was in a bad state at the labour ward.

On the 27th, she and her unborn baby passed away at 6am.

“When I returned on the 27th to continue eliminations, there were preparations going on to declare Mekere Morauta,” said Havara.

“I was very frustrated and angry when I realised counting had been hijacked during the time span and declarations were made without consulting me as the duly gazetted returning officer for Moresby North-West electorate.

“Hence out of frustration, I did the same to declare another candidate, as the duly gazetted RO for Moresby North-West.”

The former RO further claimed that he, nor any gazetted officer of the Electoral Commission, had supervised the 31st-35th elimination count.

Meanwhile, following the incident, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said Havara would be referred for investigation once the electoral process is completed.

However, Havara told Loop that since the incident, he has not received any word from the Electoral Commission. He went home to Kerema to bury his daughter and just returned last week, where he filed an official report with the NCD election manager.





Carmella Gware
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