Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato announced this week that the Governor General Sir Bob Dadae has approved the dates for a by-election for the vacant Goroka Open seat in Eastern Highlands.
He said now that the Supreme Court has dismissed PNGEC’s application to review the National Court decision ordering a by-election; it will now plan and conduct a by-election.
The Goroka Open seat was left vacant after the National Court on February 7, 2019 declared the 2017 election win of Henry Ame as void in an election petition matter filed by former member Bire Kimisopa.
“Where a vacancy occurs under section 212 of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections, the Electoral Commission is obliged to invoke section 106 of the Constitution to organise a by-election to fill the vacancy,” he said.
The National Court in its decision on Mary 28, 2018 upheld petitioner Bire Kimisopa’s election petition on grounds of errors and omissions by PNGEC and ordered a recount of votes for Goroka Open which the Commission conducted.
When the recount results were presented to Court on February 7, 2019 for verification, further hearing and declaration, the National Court rejected the results and declared the election win of Henry Ame void and ordered a by-election.
Mr Gamato said that section 74 of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Government Elections gives the authority to the Head of State acting with, and in accordance with, advice of the Electoral Commission to issue the writ for the election of a new Member as soon as practicable after the vacancy occurs.
The Electoral Commissioner outlines the Goroka Open by-election program approved by the Governor General as follows:
Issue of Writ and Nominations Open: Thursday, 23 May 2019 (4:00pm)
Close of Nominations: Thursday, 30 May 2019 (4:00pm)
Campaign Period: Friday, 24 May – Friday, 26 July 2019
Polling Starts: Saturday, 27 July 2019
Polling Ends: Saturday, 10 August 2019
Returning of Writ on or before: Friday, 30 August 2019
“Now that the Governor General has approved the by-election program for Goroka Open seat, I’m calling on the National Government and Finance Department to urgently release necessary funding to allow PNGEC to conduct the by-election without further delay,” he said.
Mr Gamato said that the Goroka Open by-election would cost approximately K5.6 million, adding that the judicial recount conducted last year 2018 had cost K3.5 million.