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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Police Accused Of Burning Jiwaka Ballot Boxes
Officers also reportedly assaulted district administrator

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 5, 2012) – Five members of Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary were allegedly involved in the burning of the Jiwaka provincial seat ballot boxes in Banz in September, Highlands Police Chief Teddy Tei said yesterday.

One of them was arrested on Saturday in Banz and charged with the burning of Ballot Boxes on the night of September 21, armed robbery, stealing and illegal use of a motor vehicle and causing grievous bodily harm.

The rest of the police officers who are still on the run are wanted for similar charges by police.

The police investigation team is yet to establish whether police-issued firearms were used in the holdup of security guards protecting the ballot boxes.

Police did confirm earlier that high powered firearms were used, allegedly by locals during the attack.

Three days prior to the burning of the ballot boxes, the same group of policemen, a composite of a Mt. Hagen based Mobile Squad and Highway Patrol Personnel, along with some political supporters, allegedly attacked Anglimp South Waghi District Administrator Kimin Gokumiye.

Mr. Gokumiye was harmed, his vehicle forcefully taken and K9,000 [US$4,286] in cash on him was also taken, Highlands Divisional Police Commander Teddy Tei said yesterday.

The five policemen were on the run since September 18 when they acted without any authorization by attacking the District Administrator. Three days later, the ballot papers were gutted.

ACP Tei called on the four officers to voluntarily make themselves available to the police investigation team and not act like criminals by hiding away from the law, which he said would eventually catch up with them.

Chief Tei said First Constable Michael Tua, 47, of Wara Kar village, Banz, Jiwaka province who is attached to MS7, was arrested after he was sighted near his village with the Administrator’s vehicle and was in police custody after he was hit with the four charges on the burning of the Jiwaka Regional Seat ballot papers, armed robbery, illegal use of motor vehicle, stealing and causing grievous bodily harm to Mr. Gokumiye.

"There was no instruction from the government that [neither] Dr. William Tongamp nor the police gave permission for these men to get the vehicle from the District Administrator. These were the acts of criminals and these officers have no space in the police force. They will face the full force of the law," Mr. Tei said.

Though Chief Tei did not elaborate on the police part in the destruction of the ballot papers, during the night of the destruction to ballot boxes, over 10 people dressed in Ninja type clothing and armed with firearms drove in three unmarked vehicles and damaged the boxes containing the ballot papers. Seven local people were already arrested over a week ago in relation to the burning of ballot boxes. Mr. Gokumiye was the administrator when Jamie Maxton Graham was the local MP.

Mr. Graham vacated his Anglimp South Waghi seat and contested in the Jiwaka Regional Seat which was won by Dr. William Tongamp.

PNG Post-Courier:
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