Usino-Bundi recount suspended after riot

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday July 29th, 2013


THE recount for the Usino-Bundi electorate in Madang was suspended yesterday morning after a rampage by supporters of sitting MP Anton Yagama and petitioner Peter Yama in Madang town.

Yama was leading with 1021 votes followed by Samson Kaniku Kansol with 1672 and John Tigavu with 388 votes when counted was suspended.

A total of 6,011 papers have been counted so far using the biometric system.

Rival supporters took part in a street battle early yesterday morning at the two leader’s homes opposite Didiman 2.

It was alleged that one of Yagama’s supporters threw a stone at one of Yama’s vehicle yesterday morning that drew a gunshot from one of Yama’s sons. Yagama’s men ran out with stones and weapons to retaliate.

Yagama’s men hurled stones over the fence onto Yama’s house roof while vehicles were lined across the road blocking off other vehicles from entering and many others shouted and marched up and down the street.

Police vehicles arrived some minutes later and were met by the MP. 

Yama’s supporters armed with bush knives and stones regrouped soon after and were dropped off at the street by several vehicles.

A quick phone call from Yama in Port Moresby stopped them from causing further trouble.

“Recount is still on and I advise all my supporters and family to refrain from causing troubles and stay focus on the recount result,” Yama was reported to have said on the phone. 

 The incident happened at around 8am after both groups went to the police station and locked away the boxes after the recount at Jomba Youth Hall.

During the day the fight broke out five times with Yagama’s group continuously attacking Yama’s residence and throwing stones.

Yagama’s supporters also rampaged the Jomba police station yard, chased the unarmed policemen and destroyed one of Yama’s vehicle parked there and threw and drums blocking the containers surrounding the containers containing the ballot boxes for recount. 

Yagama and Yama are cousins from the same Mendi clan in Bundi and were in a court battle over 2012 election result, which the National Court ordered the recount.

The recount started last week and had progressed well until the incident.

Provincial police commander Chief Supt Sylvester Kalaut confirmed the retaliatory attack by Yagama’s men was due to a shot being fired at them by one of Yama’s sons.

Kalaut reported that two men, a scrutineer for Yama and another for former MP Samson Kuli, sustained injuries during the attacked at the police station.

“I appeal to all three men to remain calm and act like leaders by not retaliating. 

“The police will not use any kind of force unless our lives are in imminent danger. 

“Everyone should remain calm and let the recount continue. We must follow the National and Supreme court orders,” Kalaut said.