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Vanuatu Supreme Court has ordered the recounting of votes cast in the whole constituency of Torres during the 2020 General Election, within a period of 14 days.
The decision was made by Justice Oliver. A. Saksak in the election petition case that was filed by Morris Manmelin.
There are 12 polling stations in the constituency. These are: Lehali, Divers Bay, Veverau, NapQue, Hiu, Loh, Tegua, Toga, Valua, Totolag, Rah and Nerenigman.
Petitioner Manmelin filed his petition on 27 April, 2020, seeking a recount of the votes cast in his constituency on ground that he had the majority of lawful votes of 1021 and Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emelee, the second respondent, securing only 971 votes, and yet, he was declared elected.
Emelee opposed the application on grounds that the petitioner lacked evidence to show that even if there were breaches of the Act, those breaches were not of such magnitude as to affect the result of the election, warranting a recount.
His application to strike out the petitioner's petition was dismissed.
Justice Saksak said statements filed by MP Emelee on 19 May and 22 May, 2020, do not contain facts, as they should. They were submissions, and according to the court, submissions were not evidence.
“The submission that the counting was transparent because counting was done over the television is untenable. Not everyone in the outer-islands of Vanuatu have access to television," Saksak said.
It was established that Emelee scored 1012 votes and the petitioner scored only 973 votes. However, it has been established by the unofficial tally disclosed by Manmelin that it was allegedly him who scored 1021 votes and the second respondent scoring 971 votes.
These figures are not consistent with the numbers published which are 1012 for second respondent and 973 for the petitioner. Clearly, there has been a reversal of the results of election for the Torres Constituency and a recount is warranted.
The state through Counsel Williams said all figures in the final tally sheets were and are consistent with the figures shown in the unofficial tally by the Petitioner, except the figures for Lehali and Divers Bay.
Saksak stated that this is sufficient as a confirmation of the petitioner's allegation. No further evidence is needed to confirm the numbers in the tally results annexed to his statement.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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