Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has appealed to Papua New Guineans, especially those in Tari-Pori and Hela, to help ensure a peaceful General Election 2022 (GE22).
“All have the right to campaign and all are welcome,” he said.
“Candidates must be free to campaign to talk about policies and the people must be free to vote safely.”
Marape made his appeal at his election rally in front of thousands of people in Tari on Friday.
“I am thankful that the GE22 campaigning in Hela to date has been very peaceful,” he said.
“Please continue to be in your best behaviour, respect the laws of your country. You have not carried bush knives, axes and guns and have not intimidated other candidates – something for which I thank the people of Hela.
“Such good behaviour to continue. I want this to be a place of free campaign for all candidates.
Marape has urged the people to give Pangu Pati another five years in Government and see what the party can do for the country.
Marape, who is also the party leader, said Pangu had given political independence to Papua New Guinea in 1975, and now wanted to give people economic independence.
“We’ve had just three years as a government, give us another five years and see what we can do, if we fail to deliver then you can vote us out in 2027,” he said.
Violence erupts at PNG 2022 election
Meanwhile, GE22-related violence and deaths are rising fast and the death toll reported by the media to date is 29.
The latest deadly clashes of rival supporters of GE22 candidates occurred in Kainantu town when supporters of two candidates clashed on Friday.
Two men were shot dead in the clash, several were critically injured and four vehicles were torched.
Business houses were closed over the Queen’s Birthday weekend while the situation was tense with police on full alert.
On Sunday, 16 people died when an Isuzu truck, overloaded with GE22 campaign supporters, plunged down a cliff on the Tomba Freeway in Western Highlands’ Nebilyer.
Many others also sustained multiple injuries. They were on their way to Tambul-Nebilyer MP and Defence Minister Win Bakri Daki’s campaign base with foodstuff when the tragic road accident occurred.
PNG PM Marape has reiterated his appeal to Papua New Guineans to be in their best behaviour and help refrain from resorting to any form of violence in GE22.
“Please respect the laws of the country. And I remind all that the Firearms Law has been amended and the maximum life sentence awaits those who carry or use firearms illegally,” Marape said.
Kainantu MP and Mining Minister Johnson Tuke said his convoy of vehicles was stoned by supporters of a rival GE22 candidate.
“That resulted in mayhem, killings and destruction of vehicles,” he said.
Tuke said he was on his way into Kainantu town to launch his campaign posters and to publicly dispel a rumour that he was dead when his convoy was attacked.
A Kainantu hopeful Dr Tara Susukea said he had no idea about the violence triggered by so-called supporters of a candidate.
“The supporters, especially women, were jumping, chanting, dancing and lifting their shirts or dresses shaking, exposing their asses and pants that angered the public,” he said. “The first stone was thrown near the service station road leading to Aiyura by the public.
“I was with 18 of my boys protecting my hardware shop, private clinic and my vehicle and taking refuge when the violence broke out.”
The mayhem left four vehicles destroyed, two torched and two others stripped of parts and several injured.