The jailing of a Papua New Guinea MP, his rival and their supporters in Madang for contempt of court has sounded a warning to politicians and their supporters to strictly abide with the court orders.
Last month, member for Usino Bundi, Anton Yagama, and his rival and former politician Peter Yama were jailed for nine and six months respectively by the Madang National Court. Both leaders served only 10 hours behind bars at Beon prison in Madang before they were bailed out by their lawyers who successfully appealed the decision before the Supreme Court. Their contempt conviction stemmed from the violence and disturbances that affected the recounting of the votes ordered by the court of disputed returns from the 2012 national elections for the Usino Bundi seat.
The seat was won by Yagama, however his win was challenged by candidate Yama. The court of disputed returns ordered a recount of the votes. However, the recount period was marred by threats and violence between the supporters of the two candidates, resulting in presiding judge David Cannings ordering the candidates to control their supporters. Cannings had ordered in 2012 that no disturbances should occur especially within the precincts of the court. “I warned that if anything of this nature happened, the consequences would be serious,” Justice Cannings said. Despite his orders, supporters continued to cause violence resulting in Justice Cannings appealing to the leaders to control their supporters during proceedings in Waigani.
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