Goroka leaders repeat call to move counting

Main Stories, National


PEOPLE from Kandep are continuing to swarm into Goroka since last weekend in anticipation of the Kandep by-election results after the counting was moved to the Eastern Highlands province capital, but provincial leaders yesterday reiterated their call for the counting to be moved elsewhere.
Goroka MP Thompson Harokaqveh told reporters yesterday there was a growing fear of the use of weapons including high-powered guns and dynamite if the Kandep people were dissatisfied with the results.
“We want the counting to be taken to a different venue out of the province as we (leaders) were not contacted and did not agree for the counting to come to Goroka in the first place.
“This just shows that the democratic rights of the people of Eastern Highlands are being suppressed by the Government,” Deputy Governor and MP for Obura-Wonenara, John Boito, said.
He said that proper protocol was also not followed by the Electoral Commission in informing the provincial administration and the provincial police commander before moving the counting venue to the Eastern Highlands province.
The two MPs suggested that counting be moved back to Mt Hagen or be done in Port Moresby.
The counting venue chosen is located in a major shopping centre right in the heart of town at an old betting shop that is now vacant.
The two MPs claimed that many public servants stayed away from work this week in fear of their lives.
Even the public could not move around freely, they claimed.
The Eastern Highlands MPs held an urgent provincial executive council meeting on Monday and resolved that the counting of votes should not be held in their town because of security fears.
Goroka town mayor Koni Sari backed the MPs’ call .
In a written statement to Mr Trawen, Mr Sari expressed fear of violent clashes between rival supporters of candidates contesting the by-election.
“The influx of fully armed Engans apparently seen by communities of Goroka as of Sunday night and their usual rough behaviour poses very serious threats to all the peace loving people of Goroka and Eastern Highlands province,” Mr Sari said.
He said the safety of the Goroka public and business operations were of paramount importance.
He added that there was evidence of bloodshed and armed clashes in Kandep over the by-election.
A spokesman for Piswara settlement, Sakramental Mosi, said they were already seeing Toyota Landcruisers with tinted glasses speeding through residential streets with no respect for pedestrians and locals.