Goroka, PNG Sees Unrest Over Rival Provincial Administrators

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Supporters of Tato, Inammoi clash outside provincial headquarters

By Michael Koma

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 6, 2016) – Goroka came to a standstill yesterday as supporters of Solomon Tato and Alvin Inammoi clashed outside the provincial Yanepa Building over who should be provincial administrator.

Supporters of Mr Inammoi were trying to escort him into the provincial headquarters building at about 10am when the rival faction stopped them saying the Supreme Court had ruled that Mr Tato’s remains in office until April 27 when the full bench hears the substantive matter.

This matter involved Samson Akunaii, the other candidate for the top public service post in Eastern Highlands Province.

THE public in Goroka were forced to flee in all directions yesterday when supporters loyal to Soloman Tato and Awin Inammoi hurled rocks and sticks at each other.

Several vehicle windscreens were smashed and shops were closed during the violent encounter. A number of people were hurt and have sought medical attention at the Goroka hospital. Police fired several warning shots into the air and discharged teargas canisters in their bid to quell the mayhem.

There was also a skirmish in Goroka on Monday between the two factions, according to provincial police chief Alex N’Drasel. He said police had brought order and were guarding the premises because the situation was still tense.

Mr Tato’s original charges in connection to the awarding of contracts to construction firms to build the Okapa district office were dropped by the Goroka Committal Court on November 27, 2015, due to insufficient evidence.

The court also found that Mr Tato’s actions, as the alternate chairman of the Provincial Supply and Tenders Board, were in line with the Financial Management Act.

Last month, the public prosecutor was trying to press an ex-officio indictment against Mr Tato in a bid to try him at the National Court on the same charges but members of the police fraud squad who attempted to serve the indictment were assaulted by Tato’s supporters.

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