WABAG - Businessman and councillor Paul Kurai has appealed to the O’Neill-Abel government to immediately declare a state of emergency in the troubled highlands province of Enga to prevent a politically motivated tribal war from spreading to other towns and villages.
The Wabag businessman (centre right) said the state of emergency must continue as long as necessary to bring hope and normalcy to the people.
Cr Kurai warned that if leaders Don Polye, Alfred Manasseh and Governor Peter Ipatas do not intervene to urge their people to stop fighting many more people will die and more property will be destroyed.
“They must not wait for the fight to stop on its own,” he said. “This is the wrong attitude.
“Enga will not be the same. Our government and elected leaders must act urgently. They must avoid the future ramifications of this political power struggle.”
Cr Kurai owns the road and building construction company, the Ribito Motel and a hire car service. He said he has already been forced to lay off many of his workers.
He has asked Don Polye and Alfred Manasseh to tell their people to stop fighting and has worked with the Catholic Church but warfare has continued very close to town.
“I am now waiting at the Crown Plaza Hotel [in Port Moresby] to see Governor Peter Ipatas to find ways to resolve this ongoing power struggle,” he said Friday morning.
“If we don’t act now, there will be more bloodshed everywhere in the province.”
Cr Kurai’s plea comes with the knowledge that five of the six Enga members of parliament sit on the government benches, all in senior portfolios.
They include Governor Ipatas, Rimbink Pato (Foreign Affairs), John Pundari (Environment), Alfred Manasseh (Civil Aviation) and Tomait Kapili (vice minister). Only Wabag MP, Dr Lino Tom, joined the opposition.
People expect the leaders to come up with a solution to stop the fighting which threatens the existence of Wabag, the provincial capital.
So far more than 30 people have been killed and property worth many millions of kina has been destroyed in the month-long fight, which was still raging yesterday.
Cr Kurai said the continued fighting indicated that the national government was insensitive to the situation.
“Businesses cannot afford to come to a standstill for two months,” he said. “Violence must not force businesses to close. The government must act urgently.”
The PNG Electoral Commission has been blamed for the violence which flared up after vote rigging, common roll discrepancies and double declarations contributed to failing to deliver a successful election.
The words of the first member of parliament for the Enga electorate of Kandep appear to have been prophetic.
When people complained to the late Nenk Pasul MBE (left) why the government did not introduce tougher laws to contain sporadic tribal warfare, he said: “People will fight their tribal wars, settle their differences and live in peace again.
“But educated people, when they fight, their fight will be more destructive, not before seen by our ancestors.
"This place will be gone.”