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The controversial Southern Highlands Regional seat issue before the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court is now over after the court dismissed the application for review Tuesday.
The seat has been a controversial one because more than five lives were lost in the counting process.
In late September last year, William Titpe Powi was declared the regional member-elect on special circumstance by the Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato after a prolonged delay that took almost three months, since June 2017, as a result of the disputes and delays in the counting of ballot boxes.
As a result of the declaration of Governor William Powi by the Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato, thousands of kina in properties belonging to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill were burned and destroyed, including his airline company South West Air.
Two policemen from Tari were also killed.
The matter was taken to court by aggrieved petitioners including the runner-up Joseph Kobol.
Kobol went through the competency hearing and at the conclusion of the hearing the matter was dismissed by the National Court two months ago, on June 14.
This forced supporters to take the law into their hands and burned an Air Niugini Dash 8 aircraft at Mendi Airport.
They also burned two District and National Court houses and the Governor’s residence in Mendi.
A state-of-emergency was declared by the National Executive Council and 21 suspects in the Mendi mayhem had been arrested.
Kobol further sought leave to review the decision of the National Court to dismiss the election petition challenging the win and declaration of Powi.
The Supreme Court in Port Moresby dismissed Kobol’s application.
In a written decision, Justice Derek Hartshorn said Powi was declared the elected Member of Parliament for Southern Highlands Province in the 2017 General Election. The primary Judge dismissed the applicants election petition after upholding the first respondent’s objection to competency on the ground that the applicant incorrectly specified the relief to which he claimed to be entitled in his election petition contrary to Section 208 (b) and Section 212 Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections.
The court stated that in the criteria for the exercise of the court’s discretion on an application for leave to review an election petition are whether there is an important point of law to be determined and that it is not without merit or whether there is a gross error as to fact clearly apparent or manifested on the face of the evidence before the court.
“The applicant for leave for review in an election petition matter must demonstrate that he or she has a serious issue on a point of law or fact to be determined such that if leave is granted the application is likely to succeed.”
In the matter, the Supreme Court found that the Primary Judge was entitled to make orders that he did.
“Further, following a consideration of the content of the application for leave to review, the affidavit in support, and the written and oral submissions of counsels, I am not satisfied that the applicant has demonstrated that he has a serious issue on a point of law or fact to be determined such that if leave was granted, the application is likely to succeed,” the judge said.
“Given this is not necessary to consider the other submission of counsel, therefore ordered the application for leave to review is dismissed and the cost of both respondents (Powi and the Electoral Commission) of and incidental to the proceeding shall be paid by the applicant,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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