12 Jul 2002

Former Southern Highlands governor calls for fresh elections

10:48 am on 12 July 2002

The dismissed Governor of Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands Province Anderson Agiru has called on the Electoral Commission to conduct a supplementary election in the province.

His call follows the latest violence in the capital Mendi in which at least two people were hacked to death, the police station raided, ballot boxes stolen and eight remanded prisoners released.

The town has now been declared a fighting zone, which gives authorities sweeping powers to search and arrest.

Earlier this year a tribal war near Mendi claimed dozens of lives, with some reports saying the death toll exceeded two hundred.

The army is now present in the region, after the PNG Police Commissioner Joseph Kupo said providing election security was straining police to the limit.

Mr Agiru, who was sacked just weeks before the poll after being brought before the Leadership Tribunal, says that most people in the Southern Highlands had not voted for fear of the gunmen.

He says no proper or fair polling was conducted and a fresh election should be held as soon as possible.