Dateline Pacific | Radio NZ
An unsuccessful candidate for president in Bougainville says he is taking legal action over the election result, alleging ballot boxes were stuffed with fake votes.
At the weekend John Momis was declared the winner of the presidential race in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region, easily defeating the eight men running against him.
With preferences he got over 51,000 votes with second place Ishmael Toroama on a little over 18,000.
But Sam Kauona, a former leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, says he and four other candidates, his BRA colleague Mr Toroama, Reuben Siara, Nick Peniai and Simon Dumarinu, are taking the action.
SAM KAUONA: We are taking this letter to court because the results are just unbelievable. A person cannot score like that when he is not favoured. For [President] Momis to score that number it is refutable. This is the new generation, it is not the old generation that used to favour Momis way back before the crisis. It is a new generation and the favouritism of the leaders in Bougainville has shifted. And that is why today a lot of people that have cast their votes, particularly in Buka, the northern part of Bougainville – they are saying, where are our votes? There is a strong public pressure stating where their votes are. It looks like it has not been counted, it looks like their votes has been thrown out and what is it fake votes have been inserted. The true ones have been extracted out and insertion of fake votes into ballot paper. And all funny things happened during the counting.
DON WISEMAN: There have been a lot of people watching this election process. You and your colleagues in the presidential race you had scrutineers every where, if there were strange things going on why weren’t they raised then?
SK: They raised it, they raised it, but the system protected the system itself. They were not able to become effective in scrutinising the process. To start off with, the distance from the counting and recording was out of sight, you cannot actually, as a scrutineer you cannot actually see what the name was. Only after some of us complained and they adjusted the tables, even then they could hardly see how the papers, whose name was it in the paper that they were sorting it out. To start off with there was a problem in the distance of scrutinising seeing it. And when they want to raise the point the police who were in charge discouraged them from voicing out. This is very clear because I pulled out the returning officer two times, not one time, to complain that the figures were not reconciling. The figures in the actual tally box for constituency compared to presidential counts, they were not reconciling, because those two areas constituency and presidential has to reconcile. And to make it worse they did not allow for our scrutineers to bring in the initial tally which was collected in the local areas. They were not allowed to bring that out or match it or reconcile with the process numbers. So it is strongly believed that the process has been tampered with.
DW: These are extremely strong allegations you are making. The other side can come back to you and say well this is just sour-grapes from people who competed and didn’t compete well enough.
SK: Well it has to be proven in court, there is a system you know. If you do not probe it out then the security situation in Bougainville is at risk. That is the important point, we have to take it to court, we have a situation here and if we do not address it in Bougainville the security situation is in danger.
DW: You are taking court action. What have you initiated so far?
SK: Well actually you are making a call right in the middle of a meeting with our lawyers. There are about nine of us complainants, contestants. Not just for the presidential seat but other areas like constituencies throughout Bougainville. We are here with a lawyer now. This is to stop people taking the law into their own hands. We have to do the right thing.