Recount for Southern Highlands Regional seat

The Waigani National Court has declared that William Powi was not the duly elected Governor for the Southern Highlands Regional seat during the 2017 General Election.

The ruling was handed down on Tuesday by Justice David Cannings.

The decision comes following an election petition filed by fourth runner up candidate in the 2017 General Elections, Pastor Bernard Kaku.

Pastor Kaku in his petition asked the court for a recount on the grounds that the returning officer Steven Gore Kaupa failed to complete and determine the results of the counting, by prematurely declaring William Powi as the elected member.

After four years of court battle, the court has ordered for a recount of the 2017 election results and the suspension of William Powi as Governor, pending the results of the recount.

“ The first respondent (William Powi) is suspended with effect from 12 noon on 31st August 2021 on full pay from discharging all powers, functions and duties and responsibilities of the office”, said Justice Cannings.

The court has also ordered the Electoral Commission to appoint a returning officer to conduct the recount, determine the place of the counting center whether in Mt. Hagen or at any place outside of Southern Highlands Province and to make arrangements for the commencement and completion of the recount.   

The matter returns on the 2nd September 2021 for mention and to check if the Electoral Commission has complied with the orders.

Jemimah Sukbat