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Welcome to Sunday Chronicle blogspot. Sunday Chronicle is a leading weekly newspaper in Papua New Guinea. It is a community oriented paper and highlights positive issues and developments of the week. We hope this medium of communication can keep you abreast of the happenings and events in the country and abroad.

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This week's local news - July 18 - 21, 2013.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Democracy at stake: Olga

                                                                                                             By ALPHONSE BARIASI

A SECOND court-ordered recount of ballots for the Western Highlands regional seat seriously undermines the integrity of the government agency responsible for the conduct of fair elections, the Electoral Commission.

The recount also raises suspicions of foul play by those entrusted to conduct the election, Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga said on Friday.

"Our democracy is at stake," the governor said.

Governor Olga was commenting on the electronic recount of votes for the Western Highlands regional seat that commenced at the National Research Institute in Port Moresby on Wednesday.

The recount centre was closed to the public but independent observers were allowed to witness the proceedings.

Mr Olga said at the press conference that it appeared from the election petition by rival and former governor Paias Wingti that the Electoral Commission and its laid down procedures had been hijacked by corrupt officials.

He described the election petition and the resultant recounts now into the third year an abuse of processes and a waste of tax-payer's money.

"As a matter of principle, I accept the election petition. We have gone through the process fairly. Now we are going beyond the limits "(referring to a second recount when a first National Court ordered recount had already declared him winner).

He said the problem was not with the Electoral Commission but corrupt individuals who had been entrusted to do a honest job.

"People are taking advantage of the processes...this is a real threat to society. Now there is another recount. What does that signal to other democracies like Australia, New Zeland and the United States?"

In a letter to the returning officer for the Western Highlands seat, Mr Olga analysed the results of the 2007 election results and the recount of 2008 and stated why believes the results were manipulated.

"Despite the fact that total allowable ballot papers for 2007 were intact when counted in 2008, notable discrepancies were recorded in the elimination process. This leaves only one explanation and that is, unscrupulous officials may have manipulated the elimination process by playing around with ballot papers or figures to advance one candidate and disadvantage the other. Whatever it is, it will be determined in the second recount..."

"I'm not worried about the outcome; I am concerned about the integrity of the system. This has gone too far."

The protracted election petition and the void in political leadership at the Mt Hagen provincial headquarters have also derailed government service delivery in the province.

Mr Olga, however, said despite the absence of permanent political and civil service leadership in the province, Western Highlanders have coped well.

"The people are resilient; they work for themselves."

The recount results will be declared by the National Court after March 14.

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