By JAMES APA GUMUNO and ZACHERY PER
FORMER Kandep MP Don Polye yesterday claimed that police on election duty in Kandep had riddled his vehicle with bullets in an attempt to kill him.
Mr Polye made the accusation while welcoming Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen’s decision to order a
re-poll in three areas of Kandep where polling had been abandoned due to violence.
He also denied reports that gunmen had attacked police and election officials while escorting the ballot boxes out of Kandep on Friday.
Mr Polye said people cut down trees and blocked the road near Kandep High School to show their frustration because they could not cast their votes.
He said it was the police who opened fire at the people and killed a man from the Komai tribe and seriously injured three other people, including a mother, at Kokas.
Mr Polye alleged that police had used a helicopter as a gunship to fire on his people from the air.
He claimed that as a result, his new campaign vehicle donated by a friend three weeks ago had several bullet holes in its roof.
He said police on the ground also fired several shots at his vehicle.
Mr Polye said it was an assassination attempt on him, but the presence of Police Mobile Squad 6 from Mt Hagen saved him.
He welcomed Mr Trawen’s decision to conduct polling in the three polling areas that had missed out on polling last week.
He said that more than 1,000 people from Muyan, Savi 2 and Tarapis did not vote.n From Page 1
Mr Polye said polling officials and security personnel stayed away from these areas based on rumours, but there was no fighting there.
He said there was enough police manpower on the ground, yet they were reluctant to conduct polling.
He claimed that these areas were his strongholds, and returning officer Poevare Torre had deliberately cancelled the polling for reasons known only to him.
When told about Mr Polye’s claims, Assistant Commissioner of Police Highlands region, Simon Kauba, rejected them outright.
He said there was a total breakdown of law and order in Kandep, especially in the three areas where polling was abandoned.
“It was very risky, especially at Muyen, Tarapis and Savi No 2 polling places. People were fighting and it was very risky for police and polling officials to conduct polling,” ACP Kauba said.
He said when officials were flying into one area, they saw people busy fighting and some were running towards the helicopter armed with bush knives, guns, bows and arrows.
He said the other two areas were not gazetted polling areas, so returning officer Mr Torre cancelled polling.
“It would contravene election laws. I addressed the 15 candidates on Wednesday after the polling and cancellation of the three polling places. I highlighted how risky it was for officials and police to get there.
“I urged them as leaders to control their people, however right after the address, fighting flared up between supporters,” ACP Kauba said.
He also denied Mr Polye’s claim of an assassination attempt by police, saying police only fired back at gunmen who were shooting at police and Electoral Commission officials.
ACP Kauba said police reinforcements were called in by chopper to help free the hostages out of Kandep by cutting through the road blocks of felled trees.
Some polling officials expressed anger at Mr Polye’s claims, saying it was outrageous that a leader like him could make such claims.
“Kandep was under siege by gunmen last Wednesday. When they struck, we (all the Electoral Commission Officials) dug for cover under the houses and police came to our rescue.
“It was only through God’s help that we were saved,” one official from Madang, who declined to be identified, told The National in Goroka yesterday.
He said gunmen had blocked the road and attacked them at Kandep High School.
“For Mr Polye to deny all these happenings, it’s like rubbing salt onto our wounds,” another official from the Hela region said.