THE Bougainville election is over – and now it’s time for some of the disappointed losing candidates to cry “we wuz robbed”.
Most prominent amongst them is former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander and Australian Army-trained explosives expert, Sam Kauona (pictured).
Presidential candidate Mr Kauona, who finished a distant third in the count, says he and four other candidates want a legal inquiry into the conduct of the poll, alleging ballot boxes were stuffed with fake votes.
He claims that many people claim the results did not reflect their vote.
"It looks like their votes have been thrown out and fake votes have been inserted,” Mr Kauona told Radio New Zealand International. “All funny things happened during the counting."
As many as nine other candidates in the Taonita-Teop electorate have written to the Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Police Service claiming that many supporters of the winning candidate double-voted.
And losing candidates in North Bougainville were to meet yesterday to discuss their grievances resulting from the election.
Francesca Semoso, who won the North Bougainville women's seat after initially lying fifth in the count, told RNZI that one explanation for the complaints may lie in a lack of understanding of the limited preferential vote system used where second and even third preferences can carry great value.
Ms Semoso wants to see more education before any future poll. "I understand how the system works and that is why I have been saying [in my campaigning] 1 and 2 and 3 are important numbers."
Electoral Commissioner George Manu is satisfied with the way the election was conducted.
"I think every losing candidate has the right to say anything that they see,” he told Radio New Zealand International. “I, as the head of the election process, I am satisfied with the whole process. I believe we have delivered the election successfully."
He said interference with ballots would have been noticed by scrutineers and international observers watching the vote count.