Dozens of people have been killed in election-related violence and 3,000 people have been displaced by conflict. UN officials have also received many reports of sexual abuse, including abuse of children
NOOSA – Port Moresby city manager Ravu Frank has condemned “in the strongest possible terms” a fight between supporters of election candidates that spilled out into the streets of Waigani yesterday afternoon.
Machete-wielding men rampaged from the counting centre at Sir John Guise Stadium towards the Vision City shopping centre and the luxurious Stanley Hotel, randomly slashing passers-by, some seriously.
The riot began in circumstances similar to recent violence in other parts of Papua New Guinea, especially in Enga Province, where disputes over ballot boxes and vote counting have led to many deaths and great destruction.
In this case a clash amongst scrutineers for two candidates in the Moresby North-East electorate escalated into a full-scale fight.
The violence was filmed by a number of people yielding images Frank described as “disturbing and inhuman”.
Seeking peace and order during the counting period, Frank called on all parties to use lawful means to address grievances and not resort to violence.
He commended the swift intervention of police, under the leadership of Metropolitan Superintendent Gideon Ikumu, which prevented the fight from further escalation.
Police rounded up a number of men and youths who allegedly were slashing pedestrians in the street.
Another nine men – the occupants of a vehicle which containing a stash of machetes – were taken to Waigani Police Station.
“There is no room for such residents with attitude problems to live in the city,” Frank said.
By late yesterday afternoon, he was able to assure city residents and businesses that the situation was under control and normalcy restored.
“The situation is being monitored to ensure the safety and security of everyone is maintained,” he said.
Makeshift shelters outside the stadium constructed by the supporters of various candidates have been demolished.
“The privilege given was misused,” Frank said. “Loitering and makeshift shelters will not be permitted again in the vicinity of these counting centres.”
On behalf of Port Moresby’s municipal government, he apologised to residents, business houses and other candidates.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has said that dozens of people have been killed in PNG during the country’s elections.
It has also received many reports of sexual abuse, including of children.
About 3,000 people have been displaced by conflict.