BY GORETHY KENNETH
ELECTORAL Commissioner Simon Sinai has denied releasing the list of names of polling officials over the weekend for the Western Highlands province.
A leaked list was sent detailing that Mr Sinai appointed Joseph Mangbil as provincial returning officer, Philip Kansol as returning officer for Tambul-Nebilyer, Willie Ropa for Hagen, James Nukundi for the Dei Council and Shadrick Paraka for Mul Baiyer- Lumusa.
The publication of the list before the official announcement by the Electoral Commission and in the official gazette angered many local elected officials and potential candidates in the province, including several deputies.
But Mr Sinai said these were not the names on the commission’s list.
He said polling officials are expected to be announced today.
Western Highland councilors Henry Muna and Simon Merua said two of the published names included in the list were controversial election officials who stood with several candidates in 2017 as witnesses to the petition against the commission on Election Petition 60 of 217 James Pini v. PNGEC.
They condemned the way the list was published even before the announcement by the commission.
“This is the list the country is waiting for,” the advisers said.
“How do these officials already participate in the decision of the electoral commissioner and tell the whole population?
“News of their appointments has already been circulating all over social media.”
“One of them had an issue with the Electoral Commission in 2017 as a witness for the petitioner as election officials in a case where an MP became a second defendant while the appointed returning officer was a witness for the petitioner.
“It’s already a case of conflict of interest.”