10 Dec 2009

Police and scrutineers tussle over by-election counting in PNG's Kandep by-election

9:01 pm on 10 December 2009

Police and counting scrutineers for the Kandep by-election in Papua New Guinea have reportedly confronted each other at the Goroka police station over the selection of boxes to be counted.

The newspaper, The National, reports that scrutineers claim police officers have interferred in the distribution of ballot boxes for counting.

Scrutineers for each of the five candidates have complained to the returning officer Simon Sinai that boxes selected for counting were from the stronghold areas of former Kandep MP Don Polye.

A group of scrutineers tussled briefly with police, after which counting resumed.

It's the latest incident in a by-election in which both polling and counting have been marred by candidates' supporters fighting each other.

Meanwhile, Mr Sinai says that nearly all the ballot papers were soaked by the recent heavy rain in the area.

Waiting for the papers to dry has only added to the delays in the counting process.