Pre-election scandal

AN embarrassing voter fraud scandal is unfolding with Southern Highlands provincial election manager David Wakias reportedly arrested after a police search of his vehicle came up with ballot boxes designated for another province, alcohol and cash of more than 200,000 kina.
Pre-election scandal Pre-election scandal Pre-election scandal Pre-election scandal Pre-election scandal

According to unconfirmed military intelligence reports received by The National, Wakias created suspicion when he drove off from Mt Hagen with election materials without the military escort of convoy vehicles provided.

Police consequently got involved. A search of Wakuia's vehicle reportedly found about five ballot boxes for Simbu province, alcohol in boxes, an unlicenced pistol and more than K200,000 ($A95,626).

While the newspaper had some difficulties getting further evidence, acting provincial administrator Unbia Kembo reportedly confirmed that Wakias was arrested.

Ironically, Wakias was lauded for his election manager appointment in late April.

According to the Post-Courier at the time, Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce president Berry Mini praised a decision to fire Johnson Levi and replace him with Wakias.

"The removal of Mr Levi as the provincial election manager is an answer to the cry of the people of Southern Highlands Province for free and fair election for almost two years," Mini told the PNG newspaper.

"We raised numerous complaints, protested, and aired our grievance through media and finally our cries have been heard by the authorities."

The election will kick off on June 23 and run through to July 6, mainly due to difficulties with polling in the highlands.

The election writs are due back on July 27.

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