​Potape seeks to stay court decision

Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the National Court's decision last week which nullified his election as Hela Governor.

His lawyer Philip Ame filed a stay application on June 8 to ask the court to stay the National Court decision, one day after Justice Collin Makail found his election null and void.

His election as Governor by the Hela Provincial Assembly members was declared illegal by the National Court for the third time.

The urgent stay application came before the Supreme Court this morning however, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia said there was no urgency in the application being moved today.

He adjourned the application to next Monday at 3pm, where it will be moved.

The election of Potape as Governor by members of the Hela Provincial Assembly was declared illegal by the National Court on June 7.

Potape and Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP, Philip Undialu, have been in court over the governor’s post since the passing of the late Governor Anderson Agiru.

The National Court on 14 June 2016, declared his elections on 29 December 2015 illegal.

The second was on 6 Sept 2016, where the court declared both Potape and Undialu’s separate elections on 5 July 2016 as null and void, issuing an order for the Provincial Assembly clerk, Watson Ebela, to fix a time, date and issue notices for the meeting.

The third election was conducted on 13 September 2016 by the Provincial Assembly. This time, no notice was served to Assembly Members James Marape, Rev. Olene Yawai and Charles Apalu, despite Apalu being verbally informed of the meet.

Justice Collin Makail found that failure to serve notice to the three was a gross breach of the election process under section 21 of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments, rendering the election of Potape void.

“In my view, the consequence is that, not only were these members denied the right to participate in the meeting but the right to vote and/or nominate for the governor’s seat,” Justice Makail said in court.

(Loop PNG file picture of Undialu and Potape outside court last year)

Sally Pokiton