By STEVEN ANDRE
I hear Mr William Duma polled 34,585 votes out of 64,073 counted ballot papers. I also gathered that there are still 21 boxes of the primary votes yet to be counted. The Returning Officer was picky in selecting Duma’s base seats with an intention, as it surfaces now, to short-cut the process.
I gather that a situation of recess was created and the counting officials took the break with the intention to continue when the returning officer dropped the bombshell by declaring Duma, purportedly on absolute majority of first count.
The formula to attain an absolute majority is the 50% + 1 of the total formal primary count votes.
There can NEVER be a calculation of 50%+1 whilst the primary count is still progressing, hence even if there is only one box left and a candidate had reached the absolute majority mark, that one primary box must be exhausted before the calculation is made.
The total population for Mount Hagen Open as I hear would be around 90,000 and if that is the figure, the 50%+1 would be around 45,001 consider there were no informal votes. What formula did the RO use in abruptly concluding the counting with the declaration? Even if Mr Duma had clearly reached the 50%+1 mark, the RO had no authority to declare him whilst primary boxes were still remaining. It is a requirement of the law and the RO had no discretion but to proceed counting.
Under section 89 of the Electoral Law (National Elections) Regulation 2007, all the primary formal votes are to be counted and tallied. A quality re-check is also the requirement of that provision. After the recheck if a candidate had received 50%+1 absolute majority of the primary counts, he is declared. Otherwise, they proceed to the 2nd counts which commences with elimination process. In the elimination process, absolute majority can be declared any time.
The declaration by the RO is therefore illegal and contemptuous of those provisions of law. The RO, in collaboration with the candidate, have corrupted the democratic process, in the worst case scenario. It cannot be mere stupidity. I gather the RO is known for such practises and was not his first time to conduct elections. Mr Duma’s previous wins have left a trail of controversies. “How he came is how he had gone and would go, expect nothing more, nothing less. With no service but vote buying and clinging onto power at all costs, manipulation and adulterating of due processes.
If I was a Jiga Milakamb or a Duma supporter, I would burry my head in shame. I would not be proud of being a member of that tribe. What would make me feel proud, the tainted name? No! Not at all!
All the candidates who have toiled to have a level playing field were disadvantaged. Election in Hagen Open is not fair, free and safe. Electoral Commission’s silence is also demeaning. If the Electoral Commissioner has nothing to say, is he contributing by condoning the crime against the populace of Mount Hagen?
Not to mention that the ballot papers of some of the regional candidates are also locked in those 21 boxes, owing to the stupidity of Electoral Commission in centralising everything to one box.
Are we loosing hope? If we cannot fight this evil (I don’t mean physical confrontation), do you think we will ever have a chance when this monster grows its roots and entrenched beyond our known shores.