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Papua New Guinea

PNG election violence chaos

Two young men are dead in Lae in Papua New Guinea as violence continues between supporters of opposing candidates in many areas.

The fighting and burning of buildings and properties are taking place as poll day draws closer. PNG has a history of election violence with as many as 180 people killed in 2017.

In this latest incident, the two young men died as supporters of Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour and contender Jason Peter clashed last Friday night in Munum outside of Lae.

According to reports, a group of supporters were passing through Munum when they met another group. Verbal exchanges escalated into violence resulting in the death of the two men and injuries to others.

Two young men are dead in Lae in Papua New Guinea as violence continues between supporters of opposing candidates in many areas. Police have given assurance that they have the situation under control but this may not be the case. Picture: ICRC Twitter

Morobe Provincial Police Commander Jabob Singura said the situation was still tense in the area but leaders of the two groups had agreed to work with the police.

He said this action has allowed the police to make arrests in relation to the two deaths.

Reports from Munun suggested that the incident had sparked Seymour’s supporters to burn buildings in the Munum market, and in retaliation Peter’s supporters had burnt vehicles belonging to Seymour.

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The fighting also led to the closure of roads in Munum.

Police have given assurance that they have the situation under control but this may not be the case.

PNG’s elections have been described as dangerous affairs. Past polls have been accompanied by spikes in violence between rival groups, resulting in injury and death.

This year’s election seems to be headed that way.

Two young men are dead in Lae in Papua New Guinea as violence continues between supporters of opposing candidates in many areas. Picture: Jeff Hardy Twitter

According to PNG Police Minister William Onglo, security operation plans for the election have been finalised.

But many feel that PNG’s security forces are ill-prepared for the upcoming elections. This has been indicated by the recent spate of violence in its highlands.

Instead of increasing police presence, numbers have been pulled and redirected in the name of elections.

Prime Minister James Marape has called on Papua New Guineans to avoid violence in the elections but so far this message seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Meanwhile Australia has offered Papua New Guinea strategic support for its upcoming national election.

Canberra said it will send more than 100 Defence Force personnel to PNG to help secure the election in July.

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