West Sepik vote count goes to preferences

2:27 pm on 17 August 2015

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Sir Andrew Trawen says the result of the West Sepik regional by-election should be announced before the end of the week.

Counting of the vote for West Sepik's Governor has completed the first stage and now enters a process of elimination through preference votes.

Vanimo, West Sepik province, Papua New Guinea.

Vanimo, West Sepik province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Sir Andrew says Amkat Mai, the National Alliance candidate, has a big lead but not an absolute majority.

"He's on 37 percent: 26,669 votes. His nearest rival is (former Governor) Simon Solo of the People's Progress Party who is on 11329 votes which is the equivalent of 15.84 percent. So the absolute majority required now is 35, 736 votes."

The West Sepik Governor's position has been vacant for around two years after Amkat Mai's victory in the 2012 general election was ruled invalid.

This was because the court of electoral disputes found various instances of voter fraud including instances of underage voters.

Sir Andrew Trawen says a petition alleging similar problems this time has already been filed.

"It's been raised again by some candidates in the by-election that some underage people have voted again, but I don't believe that. But if it did happen then people will have to come forward with the evidence because right now, the returning officer has decided to continue with the count and he has completed the primary count already."

Sir Andrew Trawen says the by-election cost around 3.5 million US dollars.