Ensure safe return of SHP ballot boxes: Court

The Electoral Commission has been ordered to move all ballot boxes for the Southern Highlands Regional seat, currently held in Mt Hagen, back to Mendi.

Justice Collin Makail ordered the Electoral Commission to ensure the safe return of the ballot boxes back to Mendi. They were moved to the Mt Hagen Police station following disputes in Mendi town over the prolonged counting.

The orders were issued after two petitions that were filed disputing William Powi’s declaration went to court today for ruling regarding a motion Powi filed.

Powi had asked the court to refer the two petitions to the Supreme Court, and interpret eight questions relating to the proper exercise of power by the Electoral Commissioner, to stop counting of votes and declare him member-elect, under section 175 of the Organic Law on the National and Local Government Elections.

This motion was refused by the court. The judge saw the issues were premature as it is also raised as objection grounds to the two petitions.

The case will instead continue through the pre-trial process in the National Court.

The petitions filed by Joseph Kobol and Pastor Bernard Kaku were adjourned to February 21 for pre-trial conference.

(One of the petitioners, Joseph Kobol, and his lawyers and supporters outside court today)

Sally Pokiton