Recount ordered for controversial election in PNG's Kandep seat

12:17 pm on 5 July 2019

Papua New Guinea's national court has ordered a recount for the 2017 election in Enga province's Kandep seat.

Don Polye (right) on the PNG election trail

Don Polye (right) on the PNG election trail Photo: Supplied/ Wanpis Ako

In that election Alfred Manase defeated former Treasurer Don Polye amid deadly fighting between supporters of the rivals.

Mr Polye challenged the result, claiming irregularities occurred throughout the vote process.

These include the counting of hijacked ballot boxes, and the exclusion of a number of ballot boxes including from Mr Polye's stronghold area.

The court ordered a recount within 60 days.

Afterwards, Mr Polye described the court decision as welcome news for the people of Kandep and PNG.

"Justice must be done where boxes, especially my seven boxes, were not counted. And also, there were many, many omissions and errors in the count of the boxes that were counted. We need to have those done properly through the process within the context of law."

Meanwhile, Mr Polye said he had confidence that Enga's provincial capital Wabag would be a suitable location for the recount.

The vote count for the 2017 Kandep election was conducted in Wabag with disastrous consequences, as perceptions of a rigged vote spiralled into major unrest.

Fighting between supporters of both Mr Polye and Mr Manase, as well as related tribes who were hosting supporters in Wabag during the count, resulted in dozens of deaths.

While the circulation of high-powered weapons in the region remains a problem, Mr Polye was confident that the recount would be peaceful.

He said supporters of both candidates would respect the fact that the court had stepped in and was upholding the rule of law.

According to Mr Polye, people of Kandep knew that the election had been rigged and were expecting an outcome such as a recount.

"I do not believe that the same (violence) will happen in the recount. I think the people have now seen the truth in that the evidence has been presented in court, and this judgement was one everyone in Kandep saw coming."

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