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All polling in PNG to end on July 8, says Gamato

All polling should end on Saturday, July 8, and most provinces to start counting on Monday, July 10, Papua New Guinea Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said.

Counting has started in nine electorates, Hela on Tuesday, Chimbu today, National Capital District tomorrow and Eastern Highlands on Friday, July 7.

Milne Bay, East New Britain, Manus and New Ireland will start counting on Saturday. West New Britain will start counting on Sunday, while Goilala, Central province, will complete polling tomorrow and counting is scheduled for Monday. Polling in Southern Highlands is completed in Mendi, Ialibu-Pangia, Nipa-Kutubu and Kagua-Erave and counting should start on Friday, July 7.

Jiwaka went to polls Tuesday, while Enga and Western Highlands, are preparing for polling tomorrow. Gamato said polling is continuing in 38 electorates in the country, and the majority is expected to finish in accordance with the gazettal notice.

In the Momase region, 101 teams of 143 in total have completed polling. In East Sepik, 42 teams have not completed their polling, while in West Sepik, Aitape-Lumi should be complete by today, Vanimo-Green, Nuku and Telefomin should all be completed by Friday.

Gamato said that in Madang, all polling teams are expected to finish end of this week, especially in Usino-Bundi district where there had been few complaints about increase in security personnel at polling locations due to queries about ballot papers. Middle Ramu District’s Kovon LLG needed additional security personnel, he said, adding that for Madang urban level government, returning officer Joe Sakipa had added half-day polling for workers to take time off to vote.

The extension of polling was to allow for seven teams out of 24 teams which were schedule for yesterday’s one-day polling.

Election in most areas have progressed well in Central, East Sepik, Enga, Madang, Milne Bay, Morobe, New Ireland, Northern, West Sepik, Western, Western Highlands, Gulf and Bougainville.

Counting venues for Central province will be Abau, Kupiano, Goilala, Gordon police station gymnasium, Kairuku-Hiri, Bomana Correctional Services and the provincial yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, counting of votes for the National Capital District has been further delayed as polling officials demand payment before they count.

A total of 3100 polling officials, who will be involved with counting for the three electorates of Moresby Northeast, Moresby South, Moresby Northwest and NCD regional, are waiting for their allowance of K110 a day for the three days of counting.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said the Commission has the money available, but as usual, the government system was slow that it takes time for the allowance to be processed on time.

He said half of the officials have received their pay and hope everything would be settled by today for counting to begin tomorrow.

This pay protest and delay have allowed about 15 candidates to seize the opportunity to issue a threat of a sit-in protest by withdrawing their scrutineers if the Electoral Commissioner does not respond to their petition by today.

One of the main petition points was for counting to be conducted only during daytime.

A total of eight petitions for NCD Regional, Moresby Northeast, Jiwaka, Wabag, Ialibu-Pangia, Hela, Goroka, and Manus had been delivered to Gamato.

Some even threatened court injunction, to stop polling, but Gamato said none has gone to court so far.

Hela Province is the first to start counting Tuesday with People’s National Congress Party candidate James Marape taking a commanding lead when the first five boxes were counted.

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