Counting begins despite killings

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday July 4th, 2012

COUNTING in Enga province has started as scheduled despite a spate of killings early in the week.
Wabag returning officer Mark Kopyala confirmed by phone yesterday afternoon that officials were at Wabag Primary School preparing for counting.
Kopyala denied that the shooting of a husband and wife and the stabbing of a young man in Wabag town were related to the election and therefore should not affect counting.   
A Wapenamanda open candidate yesterday said he had narrowly averted a potentially volatile situation involving a rival candidate and his supporters.
Ben Wia alleged that two ballot boxes bound for the gazetted locations of Tangaimanda and Ipali, in the Wapenamanda electorate, were hijacked by a rival candidate and taken to his home at Wambus where voting was conducted illegally.
 “The situation would have escalated into open violence between my tribe and the candidate’s tribe had I not intervened and risked my own life to defuse it,” Wia said.
“This is an election crime that deprives the democratic rights of the more than 3,000 voters of Tangaimanda and Ipali areas, including my constitutional right as a candidate  for a fair and just election.” 
Wia confirmed he had written to Enga security operations commander Simon Kauba regarding the matter and was confident of a positive outcome.