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CANDIDATES DETAIL POLL FRAUD IN SHP by Colin Taimbari (The National 26/8/02)

A village army hired by candidates to work for them during the elections in Koroba

Supporters of a candidate illegally mark ballot papers for their candidate in Pori.

TWO candidates from the Tari-Pori electorate in Southern Highlands province have called on the Electoral Commission and the Government to conduct the supplementary election in central locations in order to prevent selfish candidates from hijacking the elections. People's Action Party candidate Simon Bole and United Resources Party candidate and former MP Sir Matiabe Yuwi said that similar problems as experienced in the general elections will be repeated in the supplementary elections because "it is obvious that certain candidates will stop at nothing to get elected." Mr Bole produced photographs taken by his "spies" in Pori, where election officials and supporters are seen marking ballot papers for their candidates inside a house at night, using light from a kerosene lamp. Last Wednesday night, ABC Television showed similar scenes in a village in Chimbu province on its Foreign Correspondent program. Mr Bole's "spies" also took pictures of a village army in Koroba, mostly made up of youths hired by certain candidates, parading with their guns, bows and arrows, knives and axes. Mr Bole and Sir Matiabe also claimed that election officials had been bribed by candidates to ensure their victory. They said there must be a heavy police and army presence in the six electorates during the supplementary elections because the people were heavily armed and ready to take the law into their own hands. They said polling must be conducted at a neutral venue, for instance, the district headquarters or the local-level government centres so people can come out and cast their votes. They said the Electoral Commission would be asking for more trouble if it tried to take polling to the villages as had happened during the general elections in June/July. "It does not matter if we lose or win, because at the end of the day, we must have a leader who has been elected freely and fairly in a properly conducted election," they said. Sir Matiabe said candidates who are trying to declare themselves forcefully should be ashamed because everyone knows that the election was plagued with fraud.

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The following is an extract from an Australian Financial Review article dated 5/8/02 by Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific Editor:

The parliamentary election fol lows six weeks of polling that comprised tribal fighting in thin democratic guise in parts of the Highlands, where 760,000 more votes were cast than the entire adult population of just under 1 million.

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ENGA'S BALLOTS MORE THAN TOTAL POPULATION by Daniel Korimbao (The National 30/7/02)

MORE people than the total population of Enga appear to have voted in the general elections in the province, and election officials contacted in Wabag yesterday were unable to explain this phenomenon. In a province where thousands of ballot papers were firebombed, and where candidates complained of some of their people not voting at all due to the shortness of the voting period (one day polling), this is an amazing result. According to figures posted on the Electoral Commission website, at the conclusion of counting of votes for the provincial seat, a total of 317,213 ballot papers polled by the 17 candidates were allowed to be counted. According to information provided by the National Statistical Office, the 2000 National Census figures show the total population of Enga to be 295,031. The number of eligible voters for the province ought to be considerably less than this, but at the time of going to press, The National was unable to obtain from the Electoral Commission the number of eligible voters in the province or any other figure on the Common Roll for the province. When asked to explain why this was so, the Assistant Returning Officer for Enga province, Cleopas Roa, said he was still tallying figures from each district returning officer and could not comment. Of the 317,213 votes counted, Governor Peter Ipatas scored 123,313 to finish in front of John Pundari, who polled 79,918. Former MP Jeffrey Balakau polled 35,762 to finish third while Cathy Kakaraya polled 22,620 votes for fourth place. Mr Roa confirmed that counting of votes in the province has been completed but no winner has been declared. "We did not officially declare any winner, although people are aware how their candidates fared in the election at the conclusion of counting," he said from Wabag by telephone. He said the responsibility of declaring winners now rests in the hands of Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo in Port Moresby...

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COP "HIJACKS" SHP COUNTING IN MT HAGEN by Daniel Korimbao (The National 29/7/02)

A SENIOR police officer in Mt Hagen may face contempt of court charges after he assumed the role of Returning Officer for the electorate of Ialibu/Pangia in Southern Highlands province and ordered the counting of votes in ballot boxes set aside by the National Court. In a day of drama during counting at the Kimininga Police Barracks on Friday, the police officer, who hails from Southern Highlands province, entered the counting room at about midday and announced he was taking over the counting of votes. He ordered scrutineers and election officials out of the counting room, and brought in reserve policemen from Mt Hagen to do the counting. A policeman, from the police mobile unit, who was present in the counting room said they were taken by surprise by the police officer's behaviour. "He ordered my superior and the rest of us out of the room. What he did was wrong and when I approached him to stop him, he pointed a pistol at me and told me to get out," the policeman said. He said he reluctantly left with the rest of the police personnel and scrutineers. People from Pangia who were in the city to follow the progress of the counting were angered by this, and staged a peaceful but emotional protest by sitting around the counting room and weeping openly, requesting that the senior police officer stop what he was doing and that scrutineers and election officials return to resume counting. The police officer and the reserve policemen were embarrassed and stopped counting after a couple of hours, but by then votes in four of the six disputed boxes had been counted. Counting of votes for this electorate was continuing last night, but no details were available at the time of going to press. For Mendi Open, sitting MP Michael Nali was leading with 13,877 votes after count 43 followed by Pangu Pati's Masa Hapon on 12,493 and independent Steven Mendepo on 7,676 votes. Counting for this electorate, which is taking place in Mendi, was continuing last night with a winner to be declared today. For Nipa/Kutubu, the other electorate being counted in Mendi, Robert Kopaol was leading with 11,644 votes after count 88, followed by Public Service Minister Philemon Embel on 10,666 and Edwin Oropa on 7,165 votes. In the race for the provincial seat, People's Democratic Movement party candidate Hami Yawari had tallied 83,346 votes by 10 o'clock last night to be in a comfortable lead over his rivals. He polled 47,035 from Nipa/Kutubu after count 88, 19,449 after count 50 in Mendi, and over 10,000 from Ialibu/Pangia and Kagua/Erave.

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FOUR MPs LOCKED UP AT AIRPORT (Post-Courier 24/7/02)

FOUR MP-elects, including former PNG high commissioner to New Zealand Moses Maladina (Esa’ala Open) spent more than 12 hours locked-up in a Jackson’s Airport hangar on Monday. And police had to intervene to stop a clash between National Alliance (NA) and People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) supporters at Jackson’s Airport over the new MPs from Milne Bay and Central provinces. The Police presence was, however, withdrawn later but with the four men still locked up at the National Air Services hangar and PDM supporters holding the place with a handful of NA supporters. The MP-elects were People’s Action Party man and son of Trobriand paramount chief Brian Pulayasi (Kiriwina-Goodenough); Alphonse Moroi (Central Provincial); Rural Pipol Party’s Fabian Savo Inne (Goilala) and Mr Maladina. The four had to be locked up by officials and security guards “to protect them from PDM supporters’’ who monitored all exits at the eastern end of Jackson’s Airport for all of the afternoon through to late evening. The four new MPs spent more than 12 hours — from noon on Monday to 1.30am yesterday morning — before they were smuggled out to a safe location. The MPs-elect were flown in on a Tropic Air chartered aircraft from Alotau and were initially scheduled to disembark near the Tropic Air terminal next to Milne Bay Air but were left out at the eastern end of the airport after learning of the PDM “reception”. PDM supporters moved to the new disembarkation location in 10 vehicles, resulting in the new MPs seeking refuge in the National Air Service hanger which was locked from the inside by NAS staff. The four MPs were flown over from Alotau by defeated Central Governor Ted Diro — a signatory to a coalition clustering around NA. He had informed re-elected Angoram MP Arthur Somare to meet them upon arrival and discuss the Independent MPs’ support for the growing coalition. Mr Somare said yesterday he had to call police to protect the MPs-elect when he saw the PDM supporters. But PDM officials who were at the NAS hangar said that the call for police was unnecessary and made them “look like thugs’’. They said they were there simply to find out from the three Independent MPs which of the two camps they would support. Mr Somare described the situation as “pure harassment by PDM”. “The situation that happened yesterday (Monday) was something so distasteful that it should not come into PNG politics,” he said, adding this should not be happening given the new law on integrity of political parties.

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THE returning officer for Anglimp/South Wahgi electorate, Alan Allam, was stabbed with a dagger in the chest yesterday morning in front of policemen inside the Mt Hagen Police Station and rushed to the hospital for a life saving operation. The attack on Mr Allam bewildered policemen and bystanders who witnessed it happen, and shocked election officials. The counting of votes for the electorate was suspended indefinitely as a result. According to eyewitnesses, Mr Allam had gone to the police station to supervise the removal of ballot boxes from the containers to the counting center for vote counting. While he was standing among the policemen, the assailant walked up to him unsuspectingly, pulled the dagger and plunged it into Mr Allam's right chest. Police personnel reacted by attacking him, but Deputy Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga pulled the assailant away, so that he can face the full force of the law and possibly reveal who sent him to attack the returning officer. Mr Allam was rushed to the Mt Hagen Public Hospital, where he underwent surgery and is being observed at the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. Hospital staff described his condition as critical. Election Manager Kala Rawali yesterday condemned the attack. "For this to happen where you least expect it is the work of desperate people. My staff have been harassed, threatened, beaten and I can't accept this anymore. "We can't count votes for Anglimp/South Waghi because the man to supervise it is in hospital and no one is willing to come forward and do it for fear of their lives," Mr Rawali said. Mr Rawali also shut down the central tally room at Kapal Haus after a frustrated person went on the rampage there yesterday morning, destroying properties and furniture. Mr Rawali said his staff would now operate out of the police station.

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PRIME MINISTER Sir Mekere Morauta yesterday told Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo to "come out of hiding and help run the elections". "Constant attempts by authorities such as the National Security Council, the National Security Advisory Committee, the Police the Chief Secretary and others to contact him for input and advice on the continuing conduct of the elections have been to no avail," Sir Mekere said in a statement. "This has been a problem for several weeks, where repeated attempts to have the Electoral Commissioner attend important meetings have failed. "The elections are at a critical stage in several provinces, and it is essential that the Electoral Commissioner makes himself available. He must do his duty and fulfil his obligations to the nation as a Constitutional office-holder. "It is unacceptable to all of us who believe in democracy, and have worked so hard to secure free and fair elections, that the person charged with conducting the elections is never available. "Any person knowing the whereabouts of Mr Kaiulo is asked to contact the police or the Chief Secretary's office." The Prime Minister said that if Mr Kaiulo was in hiding because he was no longer able to discharge his duties to the people of Papua New Guinea, then he should resign immediately. Voters, candidates and all others involved in the elections had overcome severe problems caused by the Electoral Commissioner to get this far, Sir Mekere said. "The nation now wants to conclude the elections and to do so requires the presence of the Electoral Commissioner as a matter of national importance," he said. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Sir Mekere said he had instructed the Finance Department to release more funding to help conclude the elections as quickly as possible...

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Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has issued an extraordinary plea for help, in finding the country's Electoral Commissioner. Sir Mekere Morauta says Reuben Kaiulo (ky-ulo)has avoided meetings with police, security officials and the government to discuss the conduct of the elections. The Prime Minister says if Mr Kaiulo (ky-ulo) is in hiding, he should resign. He's asking anyone who knows the commissioner's whereabouts to contact the police. Meanwhile, P-N-G's elections are descending further into chaos, with ballot boxes in one province destroyed in an explosion. The boxes were secured in a shipping container in the Highlands province of Enga, and were destroyed when drums of aviation fuel near the container exploded when they were shot at. There are now widespread calls for the elections to be abandoned in Enga, and the neighbouring Southern Highlands province.

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BOMBED: A policeman and polling officials collect ballot papers strewn on the grass yesterday after armed men on Wednesday night broke into the Wabag police station and fire bombed two containers holding the ballot boxes. The incident was the latest in a series of serious events that have now forced election officials in the Southern Highlands Province to ask the Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo to declare the elections in the province null and void. Picture by ROBERT PALME. Electoral officials and policemen sift through the rubble of the three containers filled with ballot papers that were destroyed by heavily armed gunmen using explosives in Wabag early yesterday morning. Nationalpic by DANIEL KORIMBAO.


CHAOS reigned in three Highlands provinces yesterday as authorities await word from Port Moresby on the call for fresh elections in trouble-torn Southern Highlands Province. The Western Highlands was yesterday plunged into chaos when frustrated policemen forced all counting in the province to a standstill — firing shots at the Mount Hagen police station and demanding payment for allowances for the 10-day extension of polling in the Highlands. In Enga, 30 gunmen stormed the Wabag police station and blew up a container containing ballot boxes from Kandep, Lagaip-Porgera and Wabag Open electorates. Electoral Commission’s Highlands operations manager Boki Raga yesterday confirmed the incidents and said the situation was tense. Mr Raga said he and Southern Highlands returning officer Alywin Jimmy were still waiting for an answer from Port Moresby on the request for fresh elections in Southern Highlands. That request followed the chaotic conduct of polling in the province with candidates and their armed supporters helping themselves to ballot papers to conduct their own polling. Mr Raga said Electoral Commission lawyers had wanted more information on the situation before a decision on fresh elections can be made. “We provided the lawyers further information requested and we are waiting for an answer,” he said. Mr Raga said the destruction of the container in Enga Province took place at 3am yesterday when 30 armed men stormed the Wabag police station and held up policemen. “They forced open the container and threw a mortar in and blew up ballot boxes from Kandep, Lagaip-Porgera and Wabag Open electorates,” he said. Mr Raga said the Eastern Highlands was quiet while communication problems hampered contact with Chimbu Province. In the Western Highlands, a police source said counting was shut down after lunch yesterday when policemen learned only selected colleagues had been paid allowances with general duties and mobile squad members missing out. They walked off and raised hell in the city. He said frustrated policemen have given their superiors until 4.06pm today to come up with assurances of payment or face a total nationwide communication blackout.

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Heavily-armed PNGDF soldiers scan the area around Mendi airport soon after their arrival in the Southern Highlands capital for election security operations yesterday morning. Pic courtesy PNGDG Media Unit. Private Eric Phillip dressed in full combat gear with his MAG-58 automatic rifle on arrival in Mendi yesterday for the election security operation in Southern Highlands province. Pic courtesy PNGDF Media Unit

CRIME-INFESTED Mendi town experienced another nightmare soon after the Southern Highlands province was declared a fighting zone and just hours before the arrival of Defence Force troops from Port Moresby to begin the call-out operation. Two people were hacked to death while a large group of heavily-armed men raided the Mendi police station and seized 55 ballot boxes in the early hours of yesterday morning. And during the raid a policeman was seriously injured by the gang, which also set free eight remandees who were being held in the police cells. The killings, believed to be election-related, and the raid were reported to the commanding officer of the call-out operation, Lt Col Michael Kumun, as soon as the troops landed in Mendi yesterday morning. Three sorties by the Defence Force Casa aircraft yesterday deployed company-strength troops to the Southern Highlands to provide extra security over the next 14 days. They will be joined by two platoons today and their main task would be to assist police to protect lives and property over the next 14 days, especially during the counting of votes. Col Kumun confirmed that about 30 armed men had raided the police station at about 3.30am yesterday, held up the duty officer, confiscated the cell keys and seized the ballot boxes. A police source added that the gang was fully armed with high-powered weapons. He said the boxes were from the Imbonggu electorate and were kept at the police station after they disputed. An electoral officer in Mendi told The National that they did not know the whereabouts of the boxes, but they believed that the raid was carried out by supporters of candidates for the Imbonggu electorate. He added that they had gone to the village of the suspects and found that the villagers had fled. Attempts to contact the provincial police commander were unsuccessful yesterday. Meanwhile, former Southern Highlands administrator and People's Democratic Movement party candidate for Imbonggu, Pila Niningi, has called for fresh elections in the province under state of emergency rules. He said this would allow the people to exercise their democratic rights in a free and proper way of voting. Speaking from Mendi yesterday, Mr Niningi said there had been no free and democratic voting in the province. "It is no longer free and secret voting especially in the Southern Highlands," he said. "I have personally witnessed candidates and their supporters mounting sub-machine guns at the back of vehicles and going around firing guns in and around the township scaring people." He claimed that ballot papers had been removed from Mendi, Tari and Koroba-Lake Kopiago and destroyed. Mr Niningi commended Police Commissioner Joseph Kupo for initiating the call-out operation but said it should have been done earlier. "It is a little too late. Lives have been lost and ballot papers destroyed." He said the troops should have been used earlier to provide security for the people and the polling teams. Mr Niningi also condemned the raid on Mendi police station, saying the stolen ballot boxes were from his stronghold in Imbonggu. "The intruders had tried to prevent my supporters from voting," he said. "I am calling for a fresh election because there are no ballot papers here to count."

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20 ENGANS WOUNDED IN AMBUSH (Post-Courier 10/7/02)

TWENTY people were confirmed wounded and many were unaccounted for and two vehicles destroyed in an ambush on a convoy of nine vehicles in the Enga Province yesterday. The seriously wounded were taken to Mount Hagen general hospital while those not so seriously hurt were taken to Unda health centre in the Wapenamanda district. A man who was in the convoy of trucks and buses, transporting supporters and scrutineers of lawyer and Wapenamanda Open candidate Rimbink Pato, said they were on the way to Wabag when supporters of a rival candidate (named) ambushed them at Yaramanda. The man, who did not want to be named for fear of his life, said Mr Pato was in one of the vehicles but escaped unhurt. He said the supporters of the other candidate were on both sides of the road and when the unsuspecting convoy arrived at the scene at about 9am, they started firing with M16 and Ar15s. Those who were ahead drove to Wabag and those who were behind reversed to get out of the crossfire while three vehicles in the centre and the people in them sustained injuries from both rocks, guns and axes. He said some ran into the bushes and were still not accounted for by yesterday afternoon. It was everyone for himself when the attack happened, the man said.

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BOXES ARRIVE WITH GUNFIRE (Post-Courier 10/7/02)

A GROUP of armed supporters brought ballot boxes into Mendi yesterday, firing several rounds in the air to disperse crowds before they placed the boxes in the containers at the police station. They were supporters of one of the Mendi Open electorates candidates and were the second group to spread fear in the town. A similarly armed group from the Nipa-Kutubu electorate also brought in some ballot boxes into town at around noon yesterday. The latter did not fire any shots when they arrived in town, but the manner in which they brought in the ballot boxes has become cause for concern for election manager Alwynn Jimmy. Mr Jimmy said with the way things happened yesterday, the chances of events erupting into more chaos was highly likely. The Post-Courier witnessed more than 20 light trucks loaded with armed men bringing in ballot boxes from Nipa-Kutubu. Members of the group which brought in the ballot boxes later told the Post-Courier that at Poroma, the group was fired upon by some people and four people were injured in the shooting. The injured four were reportedly airlifted to Port Moresby yesterday. They said before they brought the ballot boxes, they sent in more than 3000 people on foot into Mendi from their electorate to secure the ground in Mendi. These people are expected to stay in Mendi until counting starts and ends. Mr Jimmy said with the way things have developed, he was very concerned about what would happen when counting began. “I am more concerned about lives here in Mendi than anything else,” Mr Jimmy said. “Therefore I would like security on the ground to be beefed up before counting can begin.” He said the practice of supporters of candidates bringing in ballot boxes themselves as opposed to independent parties doing that job was a recipe for disaster. Mr Jimmy had also requested the Electoral Commission to release much-needed funds for outstanding debts. “I must settle this and the security (issue) before counting can begin and seats are declared.” Yesterday, he was still waiting for ballot boxes from the Ialibu-Pangia, Kagua-Erave, Komo-Magarima, Koroba-Kopiago and Tari-Pori electorates. So far, election-related violence in the province has claimed one life and five have been seriously injured. * A MAN is in critical condition at the Mount Hagen Hospital after being shot, allegedly by police in Mount Hagen yesterday. The town sounded like a replay of a cowboy movie when gun shots were heard everywhere from morning to midday. Even a rapid fire of shots from a high-powered rifle was also heard on Monday night and by 10pm, Mount Hagen police station was aware of the gunfire.

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THE Defence Force has been called out to help with the 2002 elections in the Highlands Region. This is the first time the force has been called on to help with a general election in the country. Also yesterday, owing to violence disrupting elections in the Highlands, Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo extended the elections to July 29. Governor-General Sir Silas Atopare signed the papers for the extension yesterday. Mr Kaiulo said it was clear election results could not be declared on or before next Monday, July 15, which was set according to the national Constitution as the date for the elections to end. “The new National Parliament will now meet on or before August 5, 2002,’’ said Mr Kaiulo. “The Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta will announce the exact date for the first meeting of the new Parliament.” He said election-related fighting and killing was interfering with voting and counting in the Highlands and the “law says all winning candidates endorsed by registered political parties must take part in the election of the new Prime Minister at the first meeting of the new Parliament’’. “Election managers in all provinces have been advised of the new timetable. The new finishing date does not affect the program for the new Parliament to start because it allows Parliament to meet before the Constitutional time limit runs out,’’ Mr Kaiulo said. Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Joseph Kupo said because of “sporadic election violence’’ he had decided to call on the defence force to help with the elections. Senior PNGDF officers said after the announcement, soldiers deployed to help in the elections are to be issued uniforms with special markings to tell them apart. Soldiers are being moved to the Highlands from today and are expected to be stationed in the Highlands for two weeks. Election violence in the Highlands since polling started has resulted in 16 people being killed. He said the call out papers for the PNGDF was signed by the Governor-General, on advice from the National Executive Council and had been in place since last month. Mr Kupo refused to comment on when and how many soldiers would be deployed. He said the armed soldiers would exercise the same powers as police and their rules of engagement would be contained in a guideline he would provide to the defence force. “The rules of engagement first and foremost will be a lot of patience and tolerance,” Mr Kupo said. He said as soon as the soldiers land in their area of deployment, the unit commanders would report to the provincial police commanders under whom they are to operate. Mr Kupo said policemen were not armed in many areas they now operated and left them vulnerable to attacks from armed groups and needed back up from armed soldiers to ensure elections were completed.

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MT HAGEN was cut off from the outside world yesterday as supporters of losing candidates went on a violent rampage. Settlers near Kagamuga airport forced its closure and set up roadblocks on the Highlands Highway and stoned passing vehicles. Other reports indicated classrooms at Togoba High School, a fuel station and a truck were torched. Several houses on the Togoba side as well as a classroom at Komkui were also reportedly set on fire. A power pylon on the Ramba road was also felled. A hardware shop, a wholesale and several supermarkets in the city were also broken into and goods worth thousands of kina damaged or stolen. The Mt Hagen airport was closed to air traffic and so was neighbouring Mendi airport because of heightened security concerns due to the mayhem in Mt Hagen. And candidates from Anglimp /South Wahgi also warned of more trouble if the ballot boxes from their electorate were taken out and counted. (See separate story inside) Women and children fleeing the rampage early yesterday morning fled their settlement homes and spent the morning hours outside the Mount Hagen police station. A family said they slept at 5am and were kept awake by continuous gunfire — confirmed by other town residents. The situation forced most of the business houses to close and the town was deserted, except for polling officials involved in the counting of other electorates and scrutineers for the candidates for Dei, Mul/Baiyer, Jimi and North Wahgi. Chief Fire Officer Isaac Silas yesterday confirmed houses at three settlements — Highlander, Hagen Park and Kagamuga — were destroyed by fire. He could not put a cost or extent of the damage as tension was still high in the area. Defeated Hagen Open MP Paul Pora apologised for the civil disturbance in the city, disassociating his Yamka people from it, saying they were peace-loving and that the destruction was instigated by members of other tribes. Police could not be reached for comment. In Mendi, candidates and their supporters have been urged to respect the peace agreement signed between the Wogia and Unjamap people. Ban Walom, a signatory to the peace agreement said yesterday the Unjamap tribe made the call after two of its clansmen were shot in Mendi over the weekend. “I call upon my people not to take up arms but to view the death as election-related and allow the normal process of law to take its course,” Mr Walom said. One of those shot died yesterday, Joseph Morihari, a senior police officer assisting with security said, adding police were treating the incident as a criminal act and investigations had been instigated. In Tari, police reportedly watched helplessly as supporters of a candidate walked off with 10 ballot boxes yesterday. Meanwhile, in Maprik, East Sepik, the longest continuous serving Member of Parliament, Sir Pita Lus was defeated. The loss ends a colourful chapter in PNG political history spanning more than 38 year. Sir Pita was officially the father of the House which meant he enjoyed certain privileges. He was famous for his colourful language and often unnecessary interjections.

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TWO policemen illegally escorting a candidate to Kundiawa, Chimbu Province, shot dead a supporter of another candidate last week. Villagers, in retaliation, attacked and chopped the senior constable’s arm and disarmed him. The killing brought the number of people killed in election-related violence in the Highlands region to 17. Provincial police commander Samson Mapi said Senior Sergeant David Kumayong, based in Gumini, and Senior Constable John Gendua had “without authority” escorted a candidate from Nomane to Kundiawa on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Mapi said on the way at Oinima, supporters of another candidate demanded that the candidate’s vehicle return to Nomane. He said the people there did not want police to escort candidates because they were suspicious of police activities. When this happened, one of the two policemen fired a couple of rounds as warning shots and one went through the neck of the now deceased. He said the villagers slashed and disarmed Constable Gendua. Mr Mapi said villagers searched the vehicle and found the sergeant’s bag with K500 in cash, an AR15 rifle, and a shotgun with ammunition, all of which have been returned to police.

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Man to be charged with murder. A CANDIDATE for the Kompiam/Ambum seat brutally gunned down two men at a polling booth. And in the Western Highlands, a student at a high school was also gunned down in the evening while he was walking along the road with three others at Keltiga. The student is from former prime minister Paias Wingti’s clan, according to tribesmen. Enga police commander John Anawe told the Post-Courier yesterday that the candidate was having an argument with another candidate at the polling booth over ballot papers when the accused saw the little son of the other candidate and tried to shoot him. Mr Anawe said the small boy just escaped and the accused already had the gun up and squeezed the trigger, shooting two people when they were casting their vote. The police chief said the identity of the candidate was known and he would be arrested and charged with wilful murder. The shooting of the student in the Western Highlands was on Monday evening and it was said to have been performed by someone who drove past and fired at the four men walking on the road. Three others escaped unhurt. The recent killings bring the total number of deaths to 16 , all related to election violence in the Highlands. Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission’s director of operations Michael Malabag said in Mount Hagen yesterday that polling in Enga was running smoothly despite some minor hiccups. In the Southern Highlands, polling in areas accessible by road would occur today and areas only accessible by helicopter would see voting tomorrow. Counting in the rest of the Western Highlands, Chimbu and the Eastern Highlands was uncertain as no money had as yet been sent from Port Moresby. However, on a positive note, he was hopeful some monies would arrive today.

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TOLAI politician Sir John Kaputin has been dumped in a landslide victory to a close relative, lawyer Allan Marat. It ends a dominance of Tolai politics by the former firebrand since the anti-colonial struggle over land issues — if the result is not challenged. Dr Marat, a People’s Progress Party candidate from Tavui on the north coast of the Gazelle, grabbed nearly 60 per cent of the vote for Rabaul Open while Sir John could only get 17.2 per cent in placing second. In the other big Gazelle Peninsula electorate, Kokopo, sitting Member Sir Rabbie Namaliu strolled to victory with 38 per cent of the vote compared to his nearest rival, Independent Patrick Tamur on 20 per cent. It was a reversal of the pattern in previous national elections. Usually, Sir Rabbie had to struggle to get home, while Sir John had won as his rivals split the anti-Kaputin vote. This time, Dr Marat hammered at Sir John’s personal and political life. Sir John has been a prominent ambassador for the Government in recent years on Bougainville and European Union duties and his absences overseas were targeted in the campaigning. As the elections staggered along in fits and starts, the Governor-General Sir Silas Atopare agreed to extend voting in parts of 12 provinces, including inland areas of the Central Province where voting will finish by Saturday July 6. Former prime minister Paias Wingti continued to dominate the voting in his old seat, Western Highlands Provincial, tallying nearly 23,000 votes compared to 12,000 for the man who upstaged him five years ago, Father Robert Lak. Fr Lak was in Port Moresby on Friday announcing his plans to arrange a “forum’’ in which to collate all types of complaints about the way the elections had been conducted. As national leaders began to try to position themselves for forming the next national government, Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta dismissed speculation of a political marriage between his People’s Democratic Movement and former prime minister Bill Skate’s People’s National Congress party. The fact that PDM founder Wingti had been at the declaration of the result for Mr Skate had been misinterpreted, he said. “Paias went there to give party support to the member-elect for Moresby North East Caspar Wollom,’’ Sir Mekere said. It would have been rude if Mr Wingti had not shaken hands with Mr Skate, he said. Any alliances between PDM and other parties would be negotiated by him or under his direction, Sir Mekere said. Deputy Prime Minister Michael Ogio was in trouble in early counting in North Bougainville, trailing Joseph Watawai but with the capacity to recover. In the Regional seat, long time leader John Momis held a handy lead over businessman and Telikom chairman Leo Hannett, while former Resistance leader Sam Akoitai was in first place in early counting in Central Bougainville.

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