The black hole where PNG's anti-graft efforts disappear
It’s getting to be a big problem – Moresby is bursting at the seams

“We fought for our uncounted boxes,’’ Polye supporters tell

Enga provincial building near the eye of the fightDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - At last town residents, business houses and the general public are resuming normal life, or so we are assured by the authorities.

The post-election warfare officially ceased Wednesday under a heavy police and army presence. More than 30 people died in the violence, including four this week.

Provincial Police Commander Supt George Kakas said the Kii and Kala tribes had wrongly allowed former opposition leader Don Polye and civil aviation minister and member for Kandep Alfred Manasseh to exploit them to stage three weeks of killing and destruction.

Supt Kakas said the two tribes had agreed to stop fighting and accepted conditions of a preventative order which restrained them from further violence.

“Leaders named in the preventative order documents will be arrested,” Supt Kakas warned, adding that police and army personnel will remain in Wabag until normalcy returns to the small town.

He said the guerrilla-style tribal war claimed very many lives and caused property destruction valued at millions of kina.

Sophisticated modern assault weapons like M16s and Russian-made AK47s were used in the fighting which raged on the edge of Wabag town after Kandep returning officer Ben Besawe and other election officials were shot at on Saturday 22 July.

In an unrelated incident, a Bangladeshi businessman died in a fire which added to the confusion. Four other Bangladeshi men escaped the blaze which had started from a faulty gas stove.

Of the many election-related killings, two were mobile squad police officers based in Mt Hagen. A third officer remains in critical condition at a hospital in Port Moresby.

Three babies died in incubators and a fourth was stillborn after the mother fled Wabag General Hospital when it was attacked after Governor Peter Ipatas was declared winner of the regional seat.

Assistant Returning Officer George MarkeThe hospital suffered much destruction and is still closed but is expected to re-open next week. Two patients, now in the care of relatives, were Kandep assistant returning officer George Marke (pictured) and Tawale Kondal who had been attacked on the first day of fighting.

Last Monday afternoon, a Grade 11 student from Kopen Secondary School was killed in Wabag as looters tried to destroy an Asian shop. He had arrived from Sirunki with his mother to withdraw from studies but was caught in the melee.

Supt Kakas said a post-mortem will be conducted to determine if police-issued firearms had been used to shoot the student.

He said the student’s parents claimed a policeman had shot him and this will be determined after proper investigations and ballistics tests.

Supt Kakas said Mr Polye’s supporters said they were forced to fight after it was alleged seven boxes of ballot papers expected to favour Mr Polye had been set aside.

Pisara PambaiIt is understood a directive from electoral commissioner Patiliu Gamato had been sent to returning officers to count all boxes so results could be disputed in court.

Supt Kakas said he had advised Mr Polye’s supporters to go home and said the former Opposition leader should apply to the Court of Disputed Returns to settle outstanding matters.

“I told them if they kept on fighting more deaths and destruction would occur and nobody would achieve anything,” he said.

He said he would keep the seven ballot boxes in a safe location until a decision was made by the court.


Provincial Police Commander Supt George KakasProvincial Police Commander Supt George Kakas warned that leaders named on the preventive order documents will be arrested if people continue to harbour political supporters of Don Polye and Alfred Manasseh.


Assistant Returning Officer George MarkeAssistant Returning Officer George Marke nursing gunshot wound the day before Wabag General Hospital was attacked. Relatives evacuated him to another hospital.



Pisara PambaiPisara Pambai, one of several local community leaders from Wabag, who organised a demonstration expressing people’s concerns at the lack of interest shown by the government in stopping warfare in which more than 30 people were killed and millions of kina worth property destroyed.


Apiap men and womenLed by Sakalis Youth carrying placards reading, ‘Where is Government?’, local Apiap men and women march to Wabag police station to join other local demonstrators calling for government intervention to stop the fighting.


Enga provincial building near the eye of the fightEnga’s three-storey provincial headquarters building was very near the centre of fighting. Smoke from burning property belonging to Kala tribesmen can be seen billowing into a clear sky.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Joe Herman

Excellent reporting, Daniel. Jimmy and Philip, you might have a point about PNC, Gamato etc , but that does not excuse the Wabag people from the killings and the childish self destruction being displayed. This needs to stop.

Lindsay F Bond

Sad to say, reported event follows undue carnage from among citizens seeking reason and respect.

Is it that what prevailed not only is ‘common sense’ but commonly-sensed legal validity?

Can provision of ‘prevention’ be inverted, as if a ‘prosecution’ order, that Constabulary doesn’t delay?

Said of state other than PNG, “legal validity governs the enforceability of law”.

Philip Kai Morre

The Wabag people are generally good people who greet people and make friends with all. I feel the pain when people die and property is destroyed because of the failed election caused by Gamato who is the puppet of Peter O'Neill.

The crisis is here for a short time but peace will last longer. At the end nature will take its own course Don Polye will go back to parliament. He is the victim of PNC and Peter O'Neill's acrimonious action.

Jimmy Awagl

Daniel this a great report of what had happened in Wabag. I think the instigator of such problems should be blamed, people like O'Neill and Gamato.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)