Perceived unfairness in the vote count has been linked to deadly election-related violence in Papua New Guinea’s Enga province. The provincial capital Wabag remains tense and in lockdown after clashes between supporters of two rival candidates for the national election in one of Enga’s open seats, Kandep. Police have confirmed that at least four people, including two mobile squad officers, died in exchanges of gunfire in Wabag early on Saturday. Frustrations had been building last week among supporters of various candidates over disruptions to the vote count for Kandep Open. Although this electorate is in another part of Enga province, the count had been taking place in the provincial capital.
When fighting broke out in Wabag early on Saturday morning, police mobile squad officers tried to intervene, according to the Highlands Operational Western Divisional Police Commander, Mark Yangen. “The supporters were clashing and the policemen went there to stop the fight, but then one of the gunmen turned on the police,” he explained.
“So, two were dead and as a result, police shot that guy who was with a gun and the other one who was with a pump-action, but with the pump-action his tribesman took the gun away. But the M-16 was retrieved after the man was dead, the civillian.”
The violence has forced another suspension of the count for the Kandep seat, which currently has Alfred Manase of the ruling People’s National Congress party leading the sitting MP and opposition leader Don Polye.