Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Violence rocks Mendi


MANY people were wounded and thousands of kina worth of pro­perties damaged as armed supporters of two acting provincial administrators clashed in the Southern Highlands capital, Mendi, yesterday, The National reports.
Provincial police commander Chief Supt Teddy Tei confirmed that the supporters of reappointed provincial administrator William Powi and those backing sidelined acting admi­nistrator Lawrence Olkoben clashed using sticks, stones and bush knives.
There were reports of guns being used but police could not confirm that.
Reports that two men died in the clash could not be confirmed as well last night.
Tei said as Powi flew into Mendi to take up his acting appointment as ad­ministrator, armed supporters of Ol­koben tried to prevent him from entering the seven-storey Agiru Centre.
Fight then broke out in front of the provincial administration building with bush knives, sticks and stones being used.
"I condemn the action of the people of Nipa for supporting the sidelined administrator by arming themselves and having no respect for the law and other people of Southern Highlands.
"These are the actions of lunatics. They are not human beings with common sense," Tei said.
He commended the handful of policemen and local leaders who ma­naged to contain the situation from spreading further.
All government offices and stores in town closed as the violence spread onto the streets.
Many vehicles had their windscreens smashed by flying missiles.
Olkoben confirmed that several of his supporters were wounded while thousands of kina worth of properties was damaged.
He said the provincial government would pay for all the damages as assured by Governor Anderson Agiru yesterday.
He said seven people were cri­tically wounded and had to be admitted at the Mendi General Hospital while another three were transferred to Mt Hagen in Western Highlands.
Olkoben said he would continue to occupy the office until a permanent appointment was made by the NEC.
Powi blamed Olkoben for starting the commotion.
He said he flew into Mendi to take up his acting appointment but was surprised by the armed supporters.
He said NEC was the final appointing authority and the PEC and Olkoben had to respect due process and allow him to resume and take control of government administration in the province.
A government spokesman said cabinet last week rescinded the appointment of Olkoben because it did not follow proper process.
"Olkoben's appointment fell short of the Public Service Commission requirements and cabinet acted to correct this," he said.
 "People must understand this process and what happened in Mendi is a criminal act that the police must deal with," the source said.
Powi was appointed by NEC last Thursday during the changes to some departmental heads.
Mendi hospital chief executive officer Joseph Turian confirmed yesterday afternoon that nine people had sustained pellet wounds and were treated at the hospital.
Turian said while the hospital was opened yesterday, those who sought treatments were charged K1,000 each.
He said the high fee was imposed because hospital staff were forced to attend to patients as a result of a problem brought on by their own doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment