Governor Parkop Faces 3 Individual PNG Election Petitions

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NCD official accused of bribery, undue influence in 2012 polls

By Elias Nanau

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 3, 2013) – National Capital District Governor (NCD) Powes Parkop faces three separate election petitions in Papua New Guinea which will be heard in June.

The petitions were filed by Wari Vele, Michael Kandiu and Aiwa Olmi who all lost to Parkop in the contest for the NCD seat during the 2012 national election.

Among those who will give evidence during the cases are senior police officers Andy Bawa and Peter Guinness, governor-general’s secretary Tipo Vuatha, and chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc.

Bawa and Guinness were alleged to have recruited employees from the National Capital District Commission to work as reserve police officers during the election.

Kandiu is arguing that this amounts to illegal practice, and favoring Parkop.

Last Thursday, the parties appeared before Justice Colin Makail to discuss how the case should proceed.

They agreed that because the grounds raised in the petitions were similar, they should be consolidated and heard by a single judge.

Kandiu’s lawyer Philemon Korowi told the court that petitions by Vele and Olmi raised issues on errors and omissions during polling and counting, breaching the organic law.

"That’s more a legal matter," he said.

He said petition by his client Kandiu also raised grounds of errors, omissions but included bribery and undue influence.

Makail said the issue of consolidation would be dealt with by the trial judge.

He said "The trial judge will hear each objection to competency separately and rule, before each petition will proceed further," he said.

Brendan Lai, lawyer for Vele, said his client had two objections to competency filed against him – one each by Parkop and the PNG Electoral Commission.

An Electoral Commission lawyer who gave legal advice to the commission during counting could not be summoned to give evidence, though Kandiu had requested the court do so. Getting her to testify would breach lawyer-client privileges. Makail ruled that she only gave advice but did not make decisions.

The petitioners are asking the court to order a by-election.

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