SHP returning officer summoned

Returning Officer in the Southern Highlands Regional seat, David Wakias, has been summoned by the court to produce the original writ currently in his possession at trial in April.

The Waigani National Court today fixed dates for the two respective petitions that were filed by Pastor Bernard Kaku and Joseph Kobol disputing William Powi's election as Governor-elect.

The issue before court to determine surrounds Powi's declaration under special circumstances which was done by the Electoral Commission pursuant to section 175 of the Organic Law.

Why the Electoral Commission did that and what procedures were followed will be determined at trial, if the petition survives the motions challenging the competency of the two petitions that will go for hearing on April 15 and 16 respectively.

Kobol's petition seeks orders for the continuation of counting in the seat until a candidate is declared.

Objection challenging competency of the petition will be heard on 15 March.

Trial is set for 10 days commencing 9 April to 20 April at Waigani.

Kaku's petition is seeking a recount of all votes and alternatively for the court to declare it a failed election.

Objection to competency will be heard on 16 March.

Trial is also set for 10 days commencing 23 April to 4 May.

Justice Collin Makail, in setting the dates, also reminded the Electoral Commission of an earlier court order he made last month.

This was for the commission to move ballot boxes currently held at Mt Hagen back to Mendi.

He said the Electoral Commission is incumbent to ensure the court order is complied with. Failure to do so has serious consequences.

(William Powi file picture)

Sally Pokiton