January 15, 2018

Hela Petitions progressing

The Election Petition trial against Hela Governor Phillip Unidalu is progressing at the Waigani National Court in Port Moresby.

Trial Judge Justice Ellenas Batari is dealing with two election petition matters started last Thursday.

Dr Hewali Hamiya and Francis Potape have filed two separate proceedings.

Justice Batari ruled yesterday, he will hear the case separately as both men are seeking different outcomes and the grounds of the petitions are different.

Initial orders in November, 2017 was for both cases to be consolidated or combined and heard together.

Dr Hamiya is seeking a by-election if the court finds fault in whole election process, whilst Potape wants the court to directly reinstate him as governor based on allegations of illegal practice surrounding the declaration.

Justice Batari ruled he will hear Dr Himiya's petition first as it deals with the entire election process in Hela.

Mr Potape applied to the court yesterday to withdraw one of the grounds he's pleading.

A decision on this will be handed down today.

The court will then proceed to hear competency objections filed by the Electoral Commission and Governor Undialu.

The matter is expected to continue until February if its gets past the competency stage.

NBC News - Maivo Lafanama
Photo: (L-R: Francis Potape, Dr Hewali Hamiya & Philip Undialu)