ENGA Governor Peter Ipatas and Wabag MP Sam Abal, have decided to put their differences aside and work together.
The two bitter political rivals in the province made a public appearance together in Wabag this week as a show of a reconciliation process.
The two addressed a gathering in Wabag on Monday, where they stressed the importance of members from the province putting aside their differences to work together to deliver services to their electorates.
The appearance of the two men together raised eyebrows among hundreds of town folk.
To emphasise that they were united, the two leaders walked almost a kilometer together from the Ipatas centre to a stage in town to address the people on law and order issues in the province.
The two leaders urged the people to do away with guns as they were the evils in the community causing deaths to thousands and destruction to properties.
“Take up shovels instead of guns and work the land to improve your living. Gun are an evil thing that will not give you anything good but disaster,” Mr Abal said.
He also appealed to the people to stop weakening the powers of police personnel by giving them food, beer and women as bribes.
“Some of you think you are smart when you organise food, beer and women to soften the work of the policemen in the province. This sort of practice must come to end. Leave them alone to do their work,” he said.
Mr Ipatas also made similar remarks before presenting the keys of three new Toyota Land cruiser (10-seater) vehicles which the Enga provincial government had bought for the Wabag based Mobile Squad 12.
“The Enga provincial government continues to spend thousands of kina on buying vehicle for police in the province to see a peaceful community. Therefore, we want the police to wake up from their sleep and do their job,” he said.
Mr Ipatas urged police to crackdown hard on alcohol abuse, displaying of bush knives and axes in public place.
The Ipatas/Abal unity comes a week after Mr Abal failed in his bid to replace ousted Kandep MP Don Polye as Deputy Leader of the National Alliance party for the Highlands region. Abal managed only two votes, and lost to Education Minister James Marape, who polled five votes. Enga had three MPs voting – Abal, Philip Kikala (Lagaip-Porgera), and Miki Kaeoko (Wapenamanda).
Political insiders said one of the MPs was persuaded not to vote for Abal, leaving him with only two votes. This has now caused a rift among the Enga NA members.
Meanwhile, during the Enga provincial assembly meeting in Wabag last week, Kompiam-Ambum MP John Pundari said the vote undermined Mr Abal’s standing in the province and Highlands region.
Mr Pundari said his colleague leaders in NA failed to see that Mr Abal was a senior MP who had the potential to be Prime Minister in future.
“I am very disappointed that Mr Abal was not elected as Deputy Leader of NA to represent the Highlands region. I can’t understand the reason why his colleagues undermined someone who has the capabilities of making it to the top position in the country,” he said.