Mendi town in chaos

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HUNDREDS of people in Mendi town took cover after police fired warning shots and teargas to disperse locals who chased them with bush knives and sticks yesterday afternoon.
Newly appointed Southern Highlands election manager Jacob Kurap and police broke open the chained gate to the electoral office to get 25 boxes of common role equipment and other Electoral Commission properties.
Locals manning the gate and others were standing by were not happy with the heavy presence of police and started arguing with them.
The locals, who were armed-charged at police and police fired several warning shots and teargas to disperse them.
The confrontation disrupted the flow of traffic, business operations and government services as innocent people fled in all directions.
Deputy assistant commissioner  (Highlands divisional command western end) Chief Supt Mark Yangen and other officers quickly intervened to calm the situation and called for an emergency meeting at Mendi police station.
Yesterday’s incident was another twist to the stand-off between former provincial election manager David Wakias and his replacement Jacob Kurap.
Supt Yangen, who chaired the meeting, said while other provinces were advancing with their common role updates, Southern Highlands was way behind.
He urged leaders to make good decisions for the good of the province.
Yangen said it was an administrative matter which was before the court and people should not stir up commotion that would only jeopardise the common roll and election process.
Mendi community leader Francis Ank said police in Mendi were known to have created problems in the past years, resulting in the death of people and that must not be repeated.

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