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2017 National Election Count delay in Port Moresby ‘a joke’

Six days after polling ended in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District (NCD) and still no counting for the three open electorates.

Moresby Northwest MP Michael Malabag has slammed the Electoral Commission for the delay of counting as a “joke.”

Malabag, who has served the Electoral Commission since Independence to becoming the operations director of elections in 2002, said it was not funny anymore with this sort of ‘nonsense’.

“Never in the world can scrutiny of votes not take place after end of polling. It takes a day or two for presiding officers to reconcile their tally sheets and reports before counting starts.”

“Six days after polling ended in NCD and still no counting has got to be a bloody big joke. According to my knowledge, returning officers are in charge and not Electoral Commission Head Office,” he said.

“It has come to a stage where even I cannot tolerate it anymore the suspense when counting for Moresby Northwest will start.”

“It has to be a joke especially when polling was deferred for three days and now counting of votes have not even started after almost a week. What the hell is going on?”

“The joke falls back on the Electoral Commission and it is not funny anymore. I will reserve my comments on the conduct of this Election as I am qualified to do so as when I was with the Electoral Commission Office I participated in the 1977,1982,1987,1992,1997 and 2002 general elections before I was elected fulltime PEA president, I served under five different commissioners.”

“I am simply furious that counting of votes had not taken place yet.”

All Gamato is doing is entertaining the same candidates who run to Electoral Commission office with petitions and all sorts of nonsense without stamping his authority for the election process to be fully completed in its entirety without all the rubbish these same candidates bring to his office thus disrupting the process.

“Most candidates just want the counting process to start so put us out of our misery and start the bloody counting process and stop fiddling around,” a frustrated Malabag said last night.”.

Counting for the NCD Regional seat officially kicked off last night after two hours of negotiations with scrutineers.

Meanwhile, scrutineers are being warned not to interfere, manipulate and influence the work of the presiding officers, returning officer and their assistant returning officers in polling areas and counting venues.

PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato warned that scrutineers are only present at venues to observe and not influence the decisions or work of the Electoral Commission in conducting the election.

Gamato emphasised this so that scrutineers of candidates know and understand their roles and not be confused and try to take over the roles and responsibilities of election officers.

By law, the scrutineers are recommended by the candidates to represent them to be their eyes and mouthpiece and appointed by the Electoral Commission.

In East New Britain, there have been many incidents caused by scrutineers trying to manipulate the decisions of the presiding officers, thus disturbing the progress of election.

However, Gamato clarified that as soon as they enter polling areas or counting venues, their sole responsibility is to observe and not influence.

He said the role of the scrutineers is important, but they must know their demarcation, they must know where to stop.

“As we enter the counting, scrutineers must know their responsibilities, they must know their demarcation so they stop at certain areas, the responsibility to count belongs to the returning officers,” Gamato said.

He said with the East New Britain and other provinces enter the counting process, the responsibility of counting and management of the counting lies on the returning officers and not the scrutineers.

Gamato said during the process of counting the commission will not accept any dispute. However, they will take note and bring it forward to the court of disputed returns with all evidence available by those aggrieved.

The Electoral Commission will not at this stage allow any dispute to disturb the process of election.

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