Pruaitch’s declaration to be challenged

The declaration of Patrick Pruaitch as member for Aitape-Lumi will be challenged in the court of disputed returns.

Candidate and runner-up of the Open seat, Emmanuel Solwai Mambei, has lodged the election petition at the National Court, saying he has immense support from people in the district, including candidates who contested the Aitape-Lumi Open seat in the recent 2017 national elections.

Mambei says bribery is among the number of allegations leveled against the leader of the National Alliance Party, and now Leader of the Opposition.

The principal lawyer of Solwai Lawyers told TVWAN news: “After the declaration, I got in touch with other candidates and they raised concerns of foul play during the election.

“I gathered all these allegations, and those which I decided would stand out in court, I put them down on the election petition,” Mambei said from his residence in Lae, Morobe Province.

The 15-page petition was lodged on August 31 and Mambei is now in the process of serving the petition to the sitting MP.

“Patrick (Pruaitch) knows about the election petition. I will get in touch with him and serve the election petition,” he said.

Among the allegations is bribery which Pruaitch supposedly orchestrated during the election period; his nomination has also been questioned.

“What we are alleging is that Patrick (Pruaitch) was nominated before an Assistant Returning Officer, when the law states that for the last two days of the nomination period, you must nominate before the Returning Officer, and not the Assistant Returning Officer,” Mambei explained.

Mambei is confident that with the number of witness statements he has gathered, his case would suffice in court.

He is determined and has brushed aside criticisms that he does not have the best interest of the people of Aitape-Lumi.

“I was brought up in Lumi and I went away to do my higher education. I did all my schooling in Lumi so deep down I am a village boy. Every Christmas I don't go overseas, I go back to the village for holidays.

“And my one big concern was that, I own a vehicle. I want to drive from Wewak to Lumi. I don't want to go and (leave) the vehicle halfway there and walk all the way to the village. No! I want to drive all the way from Wewak to Lumi. (Patrick Pruaitch) didn't give us that. He failed in the last 15 years to give us a good road,” he said.

Emmanuel Solwai Mambei ran for the Aitape-Lumi Open seat for the first time in the 2017 national general elections.


Salome Vincent