No Foul Play
By: Post Courier June 19, 2017
Social media rumour-mongering reared its ugly head last week in Manus, forcing election officials under police supervision to open up two containers for scrutineers to observe the physical conditions of ballot boxes inside.
Police and elections officials there said persistent rumours about alleged tampering of ballot boxes inside the containers spread over social media, causing tension and concern within the community.
They said the rumours quickly spread like wild fire from when Prime Minister Peter O’Neill left provincial capital Lorengau, following a campaign rally he held there for his PNC candidates last week.
As a result, Manus election manager Sponsor Navi, and Provincial Police Commander David Yapu, organised and invited all the candidates’ scrutineers to witness and see for themselves the condition of the containers and their contents.
Mr Navi said this was deliberately done to dispel the unfounded allegations. Scrutineers were given the opportunity to inspect the two containers under close police supervision.
One container, shipped from Port Moresby, was secured with padlocks which were cut open using a bolt cutter.
The other, used as storage for election materials, was air freighted to Momote airport, and taken to Lorengau police station under heavy joint security forces escort.
“There is no foul play and your presence today will confirm that for us to complete our mandated duties for a fair and clean election,” Mr Yapu and Mr Navi told supporters and scrutineers.
Mr Yapu warned users of social media to be responsible for what they post for the general public’s consumption.
Officials there hope the physical inspection has put to rest any concerns arising from the social media allegations.
Meanwhile, the first polling teams and materials will be dispatched to the remote Aua, Wuvulu and Nigoherm LLG on Thursday by the security forces.