Officials attacked

FIVE senior Electoral Commission officials were attacked and robbed yesterday while on their way to replace the provincial election manager in Mendi, Southern Highlands, according to Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.

Mr Gamato said acting deputy electoral commissioner Simon Sinai was heading the team — including three women — travelling to Mendi when they came across a crowd blocking the road at Anga River.

The officials were on their way to oversee the handing over of the provincial election manager’s post from David Wakias to Jacob Kurap.

“They were stopped at about 9.45am by the protesting Southern Highlanders. They questioned why the Electoral Commission staff were going to Mendi to replace Wakias. They then punched the (Kandep Returning Officer) Alwin Jimmy, pushed female officers and threatened to attack them with bush knives and stones,” Mr Gamato said.

The women officers were director operations Margaret Vagi, director human resources Cecily Sevaru, and Highlands region operations manager Kila Vaname.

“They stole their bags, personal belongings and money.”

He said the officials later travelled to Mt Hagen in Western Highlands to lodge a formal complaint with the police.

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