NCD Regional candidates’ case dismissed

The courts should not interfere with the functions of the Electoral Commission during the electoral process as it is pressed for time in conducting elections.

Parties aggrieved with the conduct of the elections have the appropriate remedy, which is through election petitions, where the courts can deal with election-related grievances at the appropriate time.

That appropriate time is after the declaration and return of writs. This was reiterated by Justice Collin Makail when presiding over an election-related trial today. 

The Waigani National Court this afternoon dismissed the case filed by 12 candidates contesting the NCD Regional seat after a trial conducted in short notice.

The candidates; Andy Bawa, Jamie Maxtone-Graham, Michael Kandiu, Robert Agen, James Melegepa, Tom Watinga, Steven Kilage, Brian Pulume, Noel Anjo, Francis Tanga, Jamuga Stone and Bonny Igime filed a case challenging the scrutiny process during counting under the supervision of NCD Election Manager, Alwyn Jimmy.

They told the court they are not trying to stop the electoral process of counting but for the counting for NCD Regional to be done lawfully, according to the scrutiny process.

They asked the court to order that they be allowed to scrutinise counting and raise objection in accordance to section 153A of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections (OLNLLGE).

They also asked for the court to order for their scrutineers be allowed scrutiny without intimidation, threats or harassment by security personnel at the counting venues.

Lawyer for the candidates told the court that three presiding officers who conducted polling were not allowed to observe counting and were not allowed into the counting venues to verify ballot boxes from their polling areas.

Justice Makail said while the issues raised were serious grounds for election petitions on errors and omissions, he said the court in the past has been reluctant to intervene in the electoral process of counting.

He refused interim orders sought, saying the case is premature at this stage and they still have the remedy to file election petition after declaration.

(Loop PNG file picture of the candidates at the Electoral Commission office prior to polling.)

Sally Pokiton