Potape's petition dismissed

Francis Potape's petition disputing Philip Undialu's election as Hela Governor has been dismissed by the court for being incompetent.

The Waigani National Court today threw out the petition because essential facts that should have been pleaded to support the two grounds of the petition were not stated by Potape.

The petition was on grounds of errors and omission and illegal practice against the Electoral Commission, its servants and agents.

He claimed the returning officer failed to comply with section 175 of the Organic law, and challenged the final process of the election which led to Undialu being declared governor.  

He also alleged that there was no quality check done prior to commencement of elimination adding that the tally board was changed by the Provincial Returning Officer and his “selected counting officials” after he reached absolute majority and asked the court to make findings into what happened.

In the petition Potape was asking the court to nullify Undiau’s election and declare him instead.

Lawyers for Undialu and the Electoral Commission last week asked the court to dismiss Potape’s petition saying it was incompetent because Potape did not state in the petition, what the Returning Officer actually failed to do that would amount of grounds of error and omission.

Undialu’s lawyer Goiye Gileng also submitted the court of disputed returns is not an open forum for unspecified claims that may result in the invalidation of an election.

Justice Ellenas Batari today gave a ruling on Undialu and the Electoral Commission’s motions, challenging the competency of the petition.

He said alternate pleadings were instead stated in the petition which made it confusing for the court.

The court found that relief sought (for court to declare him governor) was based on assumptions.

Justice Batari said the pleadings are contradictory and confusing and shouldn’t happen in election petitions.

As a result, the essential facts that are supposed to set out both grounds of the petition were seen to be flawed and the petition was dismissed.

Meanwhile, the court will give another ruling this afternoon, if Dr Hewali Hemia’s petition will go past the competency stage.

Sally Pokiton