Election marred by violence


THE election of local level government (LLG) presidents and town mayors in Kundiawa, Chimbu, was marred by violence throughout last week, provincial administrator Michael Temai says.
He said violence, mostly stone-throwing and punches by candidates and their supporters lobbying for LLG president and mayor posts forced business houses, schools, Government offices and informal sector business activities to close down. Temai said when the people elected presidents and mayors in the past, the process was completed without any issues, but now that elected ward members (councillors) were allowed to elect presidents and mayors, there were intensive lobbying and intimidation leading to chaos and violence in Kundiawa town.
“In Chimbu, there would be more chaos in the districts when elections of LLG presidents and mayors are done in respective district administration centres,” Temai said. “We brought them into town to ensure there was peace and order but supporters came in truckloads to town and rival groups clashed.”
Temai condemned the actions of the supporters and urged them to think properly and behave in a civilised manner.”
He said police did their best to contain the situation and stop the clashes but were outnumbered.
He said all the 19 LLGs out of 21 had completed their election of presidents and mayors, the only two pending were Digine LLG in Gumine and Karamui LLG in Karamui-Salt Nomane.
“Because of the violence experienced in Kundiawa town, we shifted to swearing-in of Degine LLG ward members and president to Chuave this week,” he said.
Temai said government officials would be flown into remote Karamui station this week to conduct swearing-in of ward members and president of Karamui LLG.
Chimbu police commander Supt Jacob Singura could not be reached for comments despite many calls made to his office.
Reliable sources in Kundiawa informed The National that supporters of LLG presidential candidates who came into town fought each other before the group of electors went into the provincial assembly hall to elect their mayors and presidents.
The source said supporters outnumbered police who could not contain the situation.
There were no casualties but many properties and vehicles were damaged.