Saturday, January 19, 2013

LLG presidents’ election by popular vote will create problems, says former MP

FORMER Kandep parliamentarian John Yakka has asked the government to review its decision on electing local level government presidents by popular vote.
Yakka, who is the Kandep LLG president and a member of the Enga provincial assembly, told a leaders gathering in Wabag town recently that Kandep would face the worst if the election of the presidents was held outside the chambers.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said last year that LLG presidents would be elected by the people when they vote in new ward councillors in May.
LLG presidents were previously elected in the chambers by ward councillors.
Yakka said his district had lost more than 400 people in election-related violence in the past 10 years and the death toll would double if the people were allowed to elect the presidents outside the chambers with “wild campaign programmes”.
“More than 400 people have already died in election-related problems in Kandep,” he said.
“Tribes are heavily engaged in tribal fighting with high-powered guns.
“Therefore, it’s advisable that the government changes its decision in order to prevent more people from dying,” he said.
He said the ongoing violence in Kandep started when the Court of Disputed Returns ruled in favour of a submission by runner-up and prominent lawyer Alfred Manase for a by-election against incumbent MP Don Polye’s election victory in the 2007 general election.
The by-election, which was held in 2009, did not end well as heavily armed supporters of the two candidates threatened free a election by chasing away voters and preventing officials from doing their duties in polling areas before Polye was declared winner in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, where counting took place.
He said the problems became worse last year with the daylight killing of a man near Wabag market when supporters of the two candidates clashed openly during the counting period.
Enga police said the trouble was continuing, with many deaths as innocent children, mothers and old people flee to the neighbouring Southern Highlands and other parts of Enga.
Enga Governor Peter Ipatas has appealed to leaders in Kandep, including Polye, to play a leading role to bring the conflicting tribes to a round-table discussion on restoring peace in the community.
He said the members of his Operation Mekim Save (OMS) were sent to the affected areas lately to negotiate peace but they could not do much with the help of local authorities on the ground.

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