The Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has today issued instructions to all election managers, returning officers and assistant election managers not to accept any nominations for the ward councilors in the local level government elections.
This was because of an eleventh hour court decision this morning by the Supreme Court which upheld an application filed by the Umi/Atzera LLG of Morobe Province.
They filed an urgent application to stay the elections but they are interveners in a pending Supreme Court reference filed by the Ombudsman Commission in 2017 seeking the courts opinion regarding the deferral of LLG elections.
After what has already been a year and eight months since the return of writs for the 2017 general elections, the Supreme Court ordered an injunction, preventing the issuing of writs for the Local Level Government Election.
Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika made the ruling this morning after he told the court that the Ombudsman Commission (as the referrer), the Umi/Atzera LLG (first intervenor) and the East Sepik Provincial Government (third intervener), had provided compelling evidence in support of the application.
The execution of the stay order now means that the LLG elections may be pushed back as far as 2020.
The issue of writs was gazetted to be issued today and filing of nominations open at 4.06 pm.
Mr Gamato said he has been informed about the Supreme Court ruling by the Kawat Lawyers.
The court ordered the Minister for Inter-Government Relations Kevin Isifu not to issue writs for the 2019 LLG elections.
Apparently, the minister has issued writs at around 10 am today and the court ruling was said to be made 30 mins later.
Mr Gamato said they would not accept any nominations until the Supreme Court sets aside the ruling made this morning.
His statement implies the commission would appeal the ruling but as it is, the LLG elections are deferred indefinitely.
“I have advised Kawat Lawyers to immediately set the order aside and seek leave to appeal the Supreme Court decision,” Gamato said in the instruction issued to electoral officials.
“This is to ensure we do not violate the Supreme Court order and be cited for contempt of court.”
Former Morobe Governor Luther Wenge has recently commented in the media that incumbent LLG presidents are illegally representing their people as the deferral of their elections after the National General Elections was against the law on provincial and local level government elections.
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