Controller orders deferral of Goroka by-election

Controller of the COVID-19 State of Emergency, David Manning, today ordered that the Goroka Open by-election be deferred for the period of the National Emergency.

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato confirmed receiving the order at 2:30pm this afternoon.

“In accordance with and in adherence to the order of the SoE Controller, I now further delay the conduct of Goroka by-election until after the COVID-19 State of Emergency ends on 2 June 2020.”

Gamato said funding was among the main reasons for the further delay of the Goroka by-election.

He explained that the government advised him late yesterday afternoon that there was no funding available to proceed with the by-election.

“As a result, I have advised the Head of State accordingly not to proceed with the issue of the writ ceremony scheduled for today (19/5/2020).”

Gamato had written to Secretary for Treasury, Dairi Vele, on 4 March 2020 requesting for K6.39 million to conduct the court-ordered Goroka by-election.

“After our (Electoral Commission) requests for funding to conduct by-election; no funding has come on the eve of the issue of writ,” he stated.

“Without funds, I cannot proceed to advise the Governor General to issue the writ.

“Once the writ is issued, there’s no turning back or waiting for funds because the constitutional process of electing a leader to Parliament has begun and must be completed within the time period allowed by law.

“Based on that, I have decided to slightly delay the by-election until after 2 June 2020 so we can secure funds from Treasury Department.”

Meanwhile, lawyers representing Henry Ame (Young & Williams) have issued a written notice to Gamato notifying him to delay the by-election in light of a Slip Rule Application filed by their client in the Supreme Court.

The notification was served in a letter dated 18 May 2020 advising that Ame had filed a Leave Application for a Slip Rule Application regarding the Supreme Court Review - SC Rev (EP) No.2 of 2019 - which is expected to be heard within the next 7-10 days.

And they have asked Gamato to consider to pause in the issuing of the writ until such time the Slip Rule Application was heard and determined.

In response, Commissioner Gamato has advised that the Goroka by-election has now been delayed further until after the 2 June.

Slip Rule is a situation where the applicant is of the view that the Supreme Court overlooked an issue or issues prior to the decision it made or where the applicant is of the view that there was an error in the Supreme Court judgment/decision.

Press release