O’Neill no show disappoints

National, Normal

The National, Friday August 2nd, 2013


HUNDREDS of people in Wapenamanda, Enga, are disappointed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill cancelled a planned trip to the district yesterday at the last minute.

Those affected were hundreds of students from schools, traditional dancing groups and members of the pubic with placards who turned up at Wapenamanda airport as early as 6.30am to meet O’Neill and his delegation, who had been invited by Wapenamanda MP and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato.

To their surprise, Imbongu MP and Works Minister Francis came out of the helicopter that arrived and inspected a police guard of honour that had been prepared for O’Neill.

Pato later apologised to the people on behalf of O’Neill.

It could not be established why O’Neill failed to attend the planned groundbreaking ceremony for the Wapenamanda town road sealing project.

But some people said the alleged stoning of Pato and his officials on Wednesday afternoon by his relatives at Yaramanda village had forced O’Neill to cancel the trip for security reasons.

Eyewitnesses said Pato had been on his way to Wapenamanda after attending a funeral at Yakaedis village when he was attacked by people wielding axes and other tools because they were frustrated at his failure in visiting them since being elected to Parliament last year.

Enga provincial police commander Philip Welia confirmed Pato, his wife and government officials were confronted by a group of men, who stoned his hired vehicle.

Supt Welia said fortunately no passenger in the vehicle had been injured by the flying objects.

Welia did not give any details on why Pato had been attacked.  He said the ward councillor of the Waun tribe, in Minamby valley, had been summoned to bring the suspects to Wabag police station for questioning.