Court declares Akoitai

A first casualty from the 2017 National General Election, Minister for Bougainville Affairs and Member for Central Bougainville, Fr Simon Dumarinu, has lost his seat through an election petition.

The National Court today declared Sam Akoitai duly elected member for Central Bougainville following the judicial recount.

Trial Judge Justice Lawrence Kangwia on Friday (April 13) afternoon declared Sam Akoitai duly elected, pursuant to section 212 of the Organic Law on National and Local level government.

He formally ratified election results from the recount, filed in court on March 20, as correct and valid.

Akoitai, who was the successful petitioner, won the recount by just four votes ahead of Fr Simon Dumarinu.

He collected 7,257 votes while Fr Dumarinu had 7,253 votes.

Akoitai was declared after the court refused a motion today by Fr Dumarinu seeking a further recount of the judicial recount.

The motion also asked the court not to declare Akoitai duly elected.

Four allegations were put to the court by Fr Simon in his motion, however they were found to have no basis and merit to support them.

Akoitai thanked his supporters as well as Fr Dumarinu’s supporters in Bougainville in keeping the peace during the recount.

“We’d like to continue to maintain peace in Bougainville and peace must be the winner,” Akoitai said.

“Today’s decision basically answers the queries that were brought and sought in the petition.

“I’m happy that the decision has come down, there is no time to celebrate, and we’ve wasted a lot of time on this case.

“It’s now down to work, both in Bougainville and PNG,” Akoitai added.

(Sam Akoitai, in red tie, today)

Sally Pokiton