​Polye to seek counting of disputed ballot boxes

Lawyer representing Incumbent Kandep MP, Don Polye, has filed a reference in the Supreme Court seeking interpretation of the organic law and constitution on powers of returning offices.

John Napu this morning appeared before Justice Stephen Kassman in the Supreme Court with the reference that was filed under section 18(1) of the Constitution on July 14.

It was adjourned to next week because the court directed for the Electoral Commission to be served the documents despite the application being filed to be heard without any other parties.

Electoral Commission lawyer Alice Kimbu appeared in court but was not ready to respond today.

The case will return to court next Tuesday where Napu will ask the court to grant interim orders.

They will ask the Supreme Court to admit two ballot boxes and refuse six from being counted. 

The two ballot boxes that were disputed and set aside from counting by the returning officer for Kandep Open are from the Kanian and Kinduli polling areas.

Polye’s lawyer said polling was conducted on July 8 in the presence of the assistant returning officer, and not the returning officer in Kanian and Kinduli polling areas, because the returning officer had fled prior to the commencement of polling following disturbance by assailants.

This resulted in the two ballot boxes being excluded from counting.

Polye’s lawyer will be asking the court next Tuesday to order the two boxes to be counted.

They are also alleging that six other ballot boxes from the Imipiak area were not cast at the designated polling venues and brought to the counting centre, hence they should be rejected from counting.

These are boxes from the polling venues of Kerekaral, Pelyandak, Lumbipak, Waipi, Winja no.1, Mumund no.1 and Yuripak.

In the substantive, the reference is seeking interpretation of section 50 of the Constitution (Right To Vote And Stand For Public Office) and section 153A of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections (Excluding Ballot-Box From Scrutiny).

They will be asking the court to interpret if the returning officer has limited powers to refuse ballot boxes from being counted.

This case is a reference and the issue of standing, or if Polye has the right to bring such reference before the court, will be heard by a three-judge Supreme Court bench before the court can hear submissions questioning the powers of the returning officers, as per section 50 of the Constitution and section 153A of the organic law.

(Loop file pic)

Sally Pokiton