By GYNNIE KERO
PAPUA New Guineans are going to the polls from Monday to July 22 and one candidate, Milfred Wangatau (Independent – Wabag), is already in the soup.
Wangatau was arrested and charged with murder on Monday, Enga Police Commander Chief Inspector George Kakas said.
Kakas said an election campaign supporter was shot dead and another injured in a fight between Wangatau’s men and Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Dr Lino Tom’s supporters.
“We have seized a gun, belonging to Wangatau, and we are conducting ballistic tests to determine the shot that killed the election campaign supporter,” he added.
This is the most serious case of General Election 2022 (GE22)-related violence and deaths to date.
Since nomination day on May 20, the death toll, as reported by the media, is 30 (see chart).
On Sunday night, Tom’s supporters were walking home after watching the State of Origin Game 2 in Wabag.
Kakas said they began causing disturbances near Wangatau’s house.
“One dead and one injured from the sitting MP’s (Tom) side. We are still investigating,” he added.
Wangatau appeared before the court today (yesterday).
Kakas said: “On Sunday, some of Tom’s supporters were singing a song of Tom and chanting, sort of campaigning. They walked past the Wangatau’s house, and he became frustrated, came out of his house and slapped one of them and told them to lower the volume of their boom (music) box. They fled, mobilised and a fight erupted. Fists fights, stone fights, gun fights and eventually, one dead and one injured.
“Police investigations are still inconclusive who shot the deceased. Wangatau claimed he was provoked.
“He claimed that he parked his car in the midst of everything trying to (disperse) them. He claimed he caught a stone on his chest, leaving a bruise, and even three bullets whisked past him.
“He claimed he eventually managed to get reinforcements from the mobile squad,” he added.
Kakas said Wangatau was charged with murder and denied police bail.
“Investigations are ongoing to determine where bullet came from, what type of gun used. A post mortem will be conducted.
“They (political factions) are both from the outskirts of Wabag town and are somehow are inter-related,” Kakas said.
GE22-related violence and deaths are expected to rise during the polling and counting period as seen in past general elections.
Sixteen candidates are vying for the Wabag seat to be a Member of Parliament after GE22.
Only two political parties have fielded candidates for Wabag – Tom (People’s Party) and Robert Sandan (People’s National Congress Party). The other 14 candidates are Independents.
By GYNNIE KERO