Gumine petition thrown out

The Court of Disputed Returns has thrown out the election petition filed by Dawa Lucas Dekena for being incompetent.

The petition was stopped from progressing to trial hearing at the Waigani National Court and dismissed because certain requirements were not met by Dekena when he filed the petition.

Dekena disputed Nick Kuman’s election as Gumine MP on allegations there was illegal practice at Keru village, acts of undue influence and errors and omission, illegal marking of ballot papers and the illegal declaration of Kuman by the use an illegal writ.

Kuman in response challenged the competency of the petition on the grounds that section 208(d) of the organic law was not complied with by the petitioner.

This involves indicating two witnesses who attested to the petition. He said Dekena failed to provide proper occupation details however this ground was rejected by the court.

The court however found that the requirement of section 208(a) of the Organic Law were not met by the petitioner in regard to the pleadings relating to undue influence.

The court struck out the pleading to illegal practices and errors and omission that was committed by the Electoral Commission. 

Justice Derek Hartshorn further went on to rule that the winning margin, absolute majority and the total number of allowable ballot papers that remained in court after the final exclusion and before declaration were also not been pleaded in the petition.

As a result, he said the court is unable to determine whether the result of the election was likely to be or was affected, which is a requirement under section 215(3)(b) and section 218 (1) of the Organic Law when filing petitions.

The court dismissed the petition on technical grounds.

Dekena has indicated filing a review of the election petition in the Supreme Court.

Leave will have to be sought first by his lawyers for the court to establish if there are valid grounds for the high court to look into the petition.

Sally Pokiton