By Muhuyupe Soranzi
INCUMBENT Southern Highlands Governor William Powi has condemned the killings and continuous destruction of properties in the heart of Mendi town, claiming the problem was caused by some Mendi-based candidates and the election manager.
Speaking to the media yesterday in Port Moresby, Powi condemned the actions of the Southern Highlands candidates who he said were mobilising people and causing trouble in Mendi.
“The people of Southern Highlands have already spoken through the ballot papers and it’s in the ballot boxes and therefore there is no reason for regional candidates to continue to mobilise their supporters and cause killing and destructions of properties in Mendi,” he said.
“This is unnecessary and there is no need for leaders to incite problems and lawlessness in the community because from what I was told, there were five lives already lost when the problems started last Saturday.
“If you want to be a leader, you must follow the rule of law and maintain peace and a safe community. Leaders are not supposed to instigate trouble and allow communities to be destroyed,” Powi said.
He also said there should be no deaths and destruction of properties in Mendi if the election manager for Southern Highlands had followed the directives of the electoral commissioner to transfer counting to Mt Hagen.
“The directive from the electoral commissioner was to transport all ballot boxes to Mt Hagen and do the counting in Mt Hagen,” Powi said.
“But the election manager defied the authority and directive from the electoral commissioner and proceeded with the counting and that’s where the trouble and fights began between my supporters and the supporters of the other candidates.
“If the election manager had followed the directives of his boss, the electoral commissioner in Port Moresby, then the destruction of properties and the loss of five innocent lives would have been avoided.
Powi said the other thing that instigated the trouble in Mendi was that the 84 ballot boxes which the electoral commissioner gave a directive to count were not transported to Mt Hagen yesterday but locked up in Mendi.
“The 84 ballot boxes which the electoral commissioner gave directive in writing to be counted…are still locked up in Mendi police station,” he said.
“So the election manager, who is a staff of the electoral commission, is continuously defying the directives of the electoral commissioner to count these 84 boxes.
“We have written directives from the electoral commissioner to continue counting all these 84 boxes because there is no allegation of tampering, hijacking or anything that is illegal to stop these boxes from being counted,” Powi said.
By Muhuyupe Soranzi