Posted by: nativeiowan | August 6, 2010

democracy S.I. style

Troubles flare up: More police deployed to Auki, Tulagi
SATURDAY, 07 AUGUST 2010 07:55

POLICE authorities reportedly deployed reinforcements to Auki and Tulagi last night after election related troubles broke out at the two centres.

In Auki, Malaita, angry supporters of a candidate in Lau/Mbaelelea constituency grabbed ballot papers from the counting centre and burned them in front of election officials.

At Tulaga, Central Province, a group of men went on the rampage after outgoing MP Mark Kemakeza was declared the winner again.

They threw stones at buildings and broke into a shop owned by Mr Kemakeza, removing goods and anything they could lay their hands on.

Chief Electoral Officer Polycarp Haununu told the Solomon Star they’ve requested police deployment to the two centres last night.

He said police agreed to fly reinforcement in a helicopter.

In Tulagi, a resident there told the Solomon Star by phone11pm last night police officers from Honiara arrived in a fast craft and have taken control of the situation.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said those who caused the problem were unhappy with Mr Kemakeza’s re-election.

“Kemakeza is from Savo and people here feel they should be represented by a person from Gela,” the resident said.

In Auki, SIBC’s Ruth Ramoifuila, who is covering the elections in Malaita, told the Solomon Star last night police were outnumbered.

Ms Ramoifuila said the men threw stones at the counting centre and demanded a particular ballot box be handed to them.

She said the group claimed the ballots in that particular box should have gone to their candidate because the polling station the vote took place was their stronghold.

But they claimed the majority of votes in the box were for another candidate.

“They went and forcefully demanded the box from the Returning Officer, insisting the box be handed to them before they could leave the counting centre,

“In the end the Returning Officer threw the ballot box to them and they burn it in front of the counter centre before they left,” Ms Ramoifuila said.

She said the situation was very tense but cool down after the group left in the trucks.

Mr Haununu said police would be deployed to ensure counting continues this morning.

But with the burning of the ballot papers, it’s not clear last night whether counting of the remaining Lau/Mbaelelea ballot boxes will continue.

Meanwhile, counting of Fataleka constituency ballots has been halted yesterday after one of the ballot boxes were allegedly tampered with.

That alleged tampering is being investigated.

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