July 5, 2017 – Post Courier
Counting stopped after candidates raise issues
Hela Province has taken the lead as the first province in the Highlands region and Papua New Guinea to start counting of votes in the National Election.
Hela election manager John Tipa said that counting started with the seat of Tari-Pori held by Finance Minister James Marape.
As of 4pm yesterday Mr Marape, a Peoples National Congress (PNC) strongman, has taken a commanding lead of nearly 2000 votes over his nearest rival.
At the close of counting Mr Marape (PNC) was leading the progressive tally with 3315 votes, followed by Johnny Pokaja Philip 792, Pero Pajawi 451, Justin Hayara (PPP) 176 and Robert Mai 111.
Other independent candidates are below 100 while the rest have yet to score on the tally board.
This is the counting from five out of the 79 boxes for Tari-Pori, with each box from the five different local level governments (LLG) of the electorate.
When polling in the province is completed, the provincial steering committee has agreed to start counting 253 boxes from the 13 LLGs, three electorates – Tari-Pori, Komo-Margarima and Koroba-Lake Kopiago and the Regional seat.
Counting will resume today for boxes for the electorates with the boxes Komo-Margarima, Koroba-Kopiago and Hela Provincial seat.
Mr Tipa said that he stopped counting after five boxes because of several issues raised by candidates who had turned up at the counting centre at the Hela provincial headquarters.
“We are seeking legal advice from the Electoral Commission lawyers and should resume counting tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Mr Tipa said that despite minor hiccups yesterday morning, counting started smoothly as the first five boxes were cleared.
Police Commissioner Gari Baki, who was present, said Hela should be commended because they have taken the lead despite some candidate issues.
He said police have stepped up security in Hela and counting must continue, as by law counting cannot be allowed to stop once polling has been completed.
“So I commend Hela and its people. Police presence is visible with support coming from 70 mobile squad members who came up from Eastern Highlands and Western Highlands to support the security personnel on the ground,” Mr Baki said.