Police, political supporters clash

National

By ZACHERY PER and JAMES GUMUNO
KUNDIAWA in Chimbu came to a standstill yesterday morning as political supporters keeping an eye on ballot boxes at the town’s police station clashed with police.
The clash led to an abrupt temporary closure of business operations and government offices in the morning but normalcy was restored after police and concerned leaders negotiated for peace.
Chimbu police commander Jacob Singura confirmed supporters of Governor Michael Dua attacked the officer in-charge of the Fraud Squad Peter Lau for unknown reasons.
The supporters, who had been guarding the Chimbu provincial ballot boxes stored at the back of the police station since the National Court ordered a recount in Lae, decided to take out their frustrations on Lau.
Singura said the rowdy supporters could not justify why they had to attack the officer. Police fired several warning shots to disperse the supporters.
Singura said Dua’s supporter stoned another policeman, Sergeant Lewi Dangola, on the forehead and he was rushed to the hospital, treated and released two hours later.
He said situation had normalised later.
The ballot boxes in dispute ordered by the court for recount are heavily guarded by Dua’s supporters who want the recount to be done in either Jiwaka or Eastern Highlands but not Lae as decided by the court.
The court has set Feb 7 as the date for the final result of the judicial recount to be presented in court.
Spokesman for Dua’s supporters, Beno Kamtai said they refused to allow the Lae police mobile unit to take the ballot boxes to Lae last week.
Kamtai said during a consultation between the supporters and police in Kundiawa, the Lae mobile unit would return to Kundiawa in two weeks with an answer from the Electoral Commission.
Meanwhile, Singura said business houses in Kundiawa town were tired of people guarding the boxes asking for free soft drinks and food.
Singura said many business houses laid complaints with police over people harassing their clients when their requests were not met.
He said people were causing a lot of disturbances.
“You can’t harass their customers and force them to give you free drinks and food,” Singura said.
He said the delay in counting was putting too much pressure on the small police team providing security for the boxes. “My concern is about the law and order situation in the town during such time.”

Leave a Reply