Vote counting in PNG's Kandep seat remains in limbo

5:00 pm on 31 July 2017

Vote counting remains in limbo in Papua New Guinea's Kandep Open seat, one of about ten electorates where results from the national election are still to be declared.

Papua New Guinea national election 2017.

Papua New Guinea national election 2017. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The electoral commissioner returned the election writs to the Governor-General last week when results in around a fifth of the 111 parliament seats were still to be declared.

This includes the Kandep seat, counting for which spiralled into deadly violence earlier in the month in Enga province's capital Wabag.

The sitting MP and opposition leader Don Polye says the local returning officer was biased and his conduct sparked the violence that caused a delay in counting.

"And even the suspension now is because the returning officer did not want to count the seven last boxes that he's obliged to count, and he has disappeared," he said.

"So because he's disappeared and he's the only one who can count - or unless the electoral Commissioner changes it to somebody else - we're in limbo and there is the suspension still on hand at present."

Following the controversial return of election writs last Friday, PNG's Ombudsman Commission obtained an interim court order to extend the deadline for the return of writs to today.

It's expected some seats will still not be declared by the time parliament sits on Wednesday, which Mr Polye and others claim is unfair.

Meanwhile, as well as Wabag, towns in several other Highlands provinces remain in lockdown due to violence related to claims that vote counting has been hijacked.

The latest to descend into chaos is Kundiawa in Chimbu province where two people have been reported dead in an election-related shootout yesterday.

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