25 Jul 2002

PNG poll woes continue

4:52 pm on 25 July 2002

Reports from Papua New Guinea say a winner has been declared in a southern highlands electorate, with the incumbent winning all the votes counted.

But the electoral commission has refused to recognise the declaration that Herowa Agiwa has won the Koroba/Kopiago seat in Southern Highlands province.

The Post Courier newspaper saying the count had been done in a neighbouring province two weeks ago, with a former governor saying that counting outside the province only adds fuel to the fire.

It says about 100 boxes were set up for the election but votes from only three boxes were counted and all were for Mr Agiwa.

The declaration comes despite an order by the electoral commissioner not to announce any winners in the province until all approved counting in seven constituencies was compeleted.

In the Imbongu electorate in the southern highlands, polling officials are awaiting approval to declare Pila Niningi of the People's Democratic Movement, the PDM, as the winner.

The newspaper says he won all the votes in seven of the boxes.

In the Ialibu/Pangia electorate, a candidate Peter O'Neill, wants a court order to perevent the count of boxes brought in by a rival candidate because he suspects they vote will be rigged.

Meanwhile, the re-elected MP for the National Capital District, Bill Skate, says he and four newly elected MPs were confronted by gunmen at Port Moresby's airport who allegedly wanted them to side with the PDM.

Mr Skate says they were locked up in hangar until they managed to escape at nightfall.

He alleges the gunmen were accompanied by an unnamed fromer defence force commander and a member-elect of the PDM.

Mr Skate says thugs rae taking over and dictate on which side of politics MPs should be on.

The Electoral Commission has now been joined by the Ombudsman Commission to declare the elections in Enga and Southern Highlands province null and void.