WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The Pacific Islands Forum has condemned the recent deaths and escalating violence in Papua New Guinea, including in Porgera and Port Moresby, over the course of the 2022 National Election.
Forum general secretary Henry Puna said the Forum stood ready to support the government and people of PNG in any way it could.
18 people were killed in Porgera in Enga last week and over the weekend violence from the counting centre at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby overflowed into the streets with groups of supporters of rival candidates attacking each other with machetes.
The violence has been widespread and there is not much the police and other security forces have done to quell it.
Election related violence for Port Moresby Northeast electorate at the counting area, Vision City, Waigani, NCD. No safe please avoid the area. It’s happening now. pic.twitter.com/rKqM6GW46C
— Tony Tambi Jr (@tambijr_4rmPNG) July 24, 2022
Mr Puna said it was a stark reminder of the fundamental responsibility Pacific leaders hold to ensure the right to safety and the protection afforded by the rule of law across all communities, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society.
He said the supreme law and founding constitutions of Forum nations, and the fundamental rights and protections they offer for all, must prevail.
“My heart goes out to the grieving families in one of our largest Pacific nations,” said Mr Puna.
“I recognise that implementing the rule of law and justice across the more remote parts of our region is challenging, but it is critical.
“I commend those who are moving swiftly, with urgency and determination, to end the brutality and damage displacing thousands of those impacted most by internal conflict. It is my prayer and my call that justice be done, addressing the underlying causes of such conflicts to prevent it happening again.”
PNG’s election has not been in order as experts had sounded the warning even before the start of polling about the missing names on the electoral roll and the incapability of the security forces to handle mass violence and rioting.
Voting has stopped and counting is taking place and with the current results it appears James Marape and the Pangu Party will get back into power.
The PNG elections have had sets of observers from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum who are due to release their report on the elections, and if they found the elections to be free and fair or not.
In 2017, the reports from the observer groups just made the news and there was no action taken to improve voter registration, update the names on the electoral rolls or ensure security of those involved in voting.
Professor Francis Warigai, a senior lecturer in the field of political science said the elections had no indication that people were allowed to cast their votes in a free and fair manner.
He said the ball will be in the court of the incoming government in regards to how they deal with what happened in the election and what they will do to prevent this in the future.
He said there needs to be something done otherwise the cycle of violence will continue forever in PNG.
Can PNG’s election results be trusted – 21 July 2022
A frightening picture of the elections in Papua New Guinea is being painted as violence in some regions have overshadowed peaceful voting.
Reports coming out of PNG tell stories of women raped by rioters, government and private properties torched, and ballot boxes either hijacked or burnt.
Reports of violence and mayhem emerged from Paiam town, Porgera and Kompiam in Enga, and Kabwum and Mutzing in Morobe.
PNG police commissioner David Manning has already started preparing a report which will be given to the PNG electoral commission to declare the elections failed in Enga.
“There is an upsurge in lawlessness within the past 72 hours in parts of the Enga,” Mr Manning said.
“A joint task force comprising military and police personnel will be deployed in Enga to restore law and order.”
Women’s groups across the region have called on PNG’s caretaker government to intervene and protect the most vulnerable in this situation.
PNG police said that three girls hiding in a house in Paiama town were allegedly raped by armed men who stormed the town.
Mr Manning said 15 candidates in Enga were being investigated for their roles in the election-related violence.
“Someone must be held responsible for the death and destruction in the Enga,” he said.
“These candidates, these so-called leaders, were silent when the death and destruction began and have remained silent since.
“God help us if this is the caliber of leadership being put forward for the people of Enga.”
Mr Manning said there were some candidates who wanted to win at any cost and that meant inciting violence and causing death. The exact death toll has not been confirmed but it is believed that over 50 people have lost their lives.
PNG electoral commissioner Simon Sinai said no election will be deemed as failed unless a full report is given by security and electoral staff in the five electorates that have faced issues in the past week.
Markham and Kabwum in Morobe, Kompiam-Ambum, Lagaip and Porgera in Enga Province are five electorates that have seen allegations of vote-fixing leading to clashes between supporters allegedly supported by candidates.
“No decision will be made unless a full report is given,” he said.
“For now we are putting together information we are getting and a decision will be made.”
Mr Sinai further stated that he would also seek legal advice before making any decision.
Voting in PNG is set to end this week and following this the various independent observer groups will be releasing their initial reports.
So far, many have questioned the integrity of the elections that have been held in PNG and have asked if the results can truly be trusted.
PM criticised for attending PIF while nation in chaos – 18 July 2022
Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape has denied that his visit to Fiji to attend the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting was comparable to Nero fiddling while Rome burned.
He said the regional meeting was important as the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent was being decided along with other regional matters such as climate change, tuna and minerals.
“I know the elections are being conducted in PNG, but I need to represent the country and that is why I had to be here to ensure our voice is heard,” Mr Marape said.
Mr Marape was declared the winner of his electorate before he took the trip to Fiji. He will return to PNG this weekend and while he has been in Fiji, things in Papua New Guinea have gone from bad to worse.
In the Enga province, rioting and looting is becoming a norm, ballot boxes are being stolen and buildings including schools are being torched.
Election officials are fighting for their safety and at the same time ensuring ballot boxes are not being stolen.
Media in PNG have said that the province is in chaos as rival candidates fight to hijack ballot boxes.
Enga police commander Acting Superintendent George Kakas said the police station was under attack for three days and so far 50 plus ballot boxes had gone missing.
“Rival candidates also tried to burn incumbent MP Sir John Pundari’s house, the sub-district office and the Yumbiliam High School,” he said.
“A running gunfight between the supporters of the candidates rages on. The ballot boxes could not be transported to counting centres and are stored in the police station.
“And a fight between candidate supporters has just erupted in Wabag. We have asked for additional security manpower.”
Illegal roadblocks set up in the area were making it difficult to transport the ballot boxes. Reports have been received that a public servant was shot dead and ballot boxes were hijacked by candidates.
Usage of helicopters to transport ballot boxes have also stopped because the aircraft are being shot at.
In the Eastern Highlands, police have detained 86 people which include eight women and six children for alleged tampering with ballot boxes.
Professor Francis Wargirai from the University of Papua New Guinea’s Department of Political Science said PNG was in a turmoil as law and order was being constantly undermined.
He said the biggest factor in all this is the missing names on the electoral roll. He said after the 2017 elections, there were clear recommendations that before conducting the next elections, the roll must be updated.
He said his students who were doing their doctorates had returned from polling venues because they could not find their names on the roll.
The number of lives lost in the election violence continues to mount and voting will continue until next Wednesday.
The international observers will be releasing an initial report on the elections two days after voting stops.
PNG election descends into chaos as 8yo kids vote – 9 July 2022
It has only been a week and Papua New Guinea’s election has already been branded as chaotic as thousands have been turned away from polling venues, as names do not appear on the voter roll and election officials are resigning.
The violence is rife and pictures have emerged of children as young as eight years old who have voted, while there are pictures of men voting away from polling venues.
There are also reports emerging that ballot boxes have been hijacked.
According to some people, the signs of a failed election are everywhere. Some believe that the voter roll being used is from 2012 as even those who had voted in 2017 are being turned away from polling venues.
There is evidence of corruption, intimidation, coercion, vote rigging, vote buying and tampering with ballot boxes and ballot papers, and violence and election related murders.
If all these were not enough, authorities are having to deal with fake news being circulated which is inciting trouble.
PNG’s commissioner of police David Manning is one man who has things stacked against him. His police numbers and equipment are not enough to guard election-related assets and provide security to the general public at the same time.
He hopes that the people of PNG stop buying into the fake news.
“Rest assured that all this will be done transparently with the release of timely information to the public through the media,” Mr Manning said.
“I am now appealing to everyone to refrain from posting unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports over social media. Do not repost any information regarding the election that has not come from a government official.
“As I have stated, ignorance is not a defence and those found spreading untrue statements will be charged under our Cyber Crime and Election Laws.”
In the National Capital District, voting has been delayed because of the voter rolls. This has led to many people calling it very poorly organised.
There have been calls for the electoral commissioner Simon Sinai and even for Prime Minister James Marape to step down.
PNG media reported that Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, visited the Electoral Commission office to find out the reason for the postponement of polling.
Two senior election officials, the manager responsible for the National Capital District Kila Ralai and a returning officer Billy George resigned on Friday afternoon.
Ian Tarutia, the president of the PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the media that it was disruptive, unacceptable, inexcusable, and costly to the business community.
Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Rio Fiocco said it was disappointing that the deferral was decided late.
Head of the Catholic Church in PNG Cardinal Sir John Ribat held a press conference in Port Moresby seeking answers about the elections.
So far there has been no response from authorities. Voting is to end on July 22.