highlands region

Locals frustrated with buai-related clashes

This is the cry of the people from neighbouring Central villages who witnessed what they described as another unnecessary buai incident that disturbed their peace.

According to a villager from west Mekeo, a few days ago, a man from the Highlands region was allegedly killed in Kerema town, Gulf Province, whilst on a buai trade trip there.

Relatives of the man, in busloads, retaliated and attacked people along the highway to Kerema.

A man in Kerema town is reportedly nursing serious slash wounds.

Elections review: Highlands Region

Journalist Freddy Mou witnessed firsthand the volatile situation of elections in the Highlands.

This is his summary of elections in the Highlands.

The campaign period in the Highlands region is always a time to showcase the sort of leaders a tribe has.

This is when pigs, cows and other livestock are slaughtered, with celebrations after celebrations held at various campaign venues by candidates to try and lure voters.

Counting for H’lands Provinces nearing

Following the extraction of teams into remote Marawaka on Saturday preparations for counting are underway after polling in parts of Goroka.

Electoral Commissioner, Patilias Gamato says some people have asked to extend polling however they cannot as he is satisfied polling has taken place.

In Southern Highlands, poling began on Saturday.

Some areas reported shortage of ballot papers and they include Kagua Rural (Part B), Ialib Urban (Part B) and Mendi Urban (Part B).

​Helicopter firm defends itself

A spokesman said they were ready for Eastern Highlands, Simbu and Hela when polling was scheduled for June 26.

Delay on ground due to candidate grievances and other factors saw polling in some of these areas deferred, therefore the helicopter company left, with clearance from Electoral officials, to attend to other electoral jobs that needed their assistance.

This morning they have sent two helicopters to Eastern Highlands Province and one to Simbu Province to assist in insertion and extractions of polling teams for the remote areas.

Officials urged to be wary of fake ballot papers

Enga regional candidate Robert Pati has called on electoral officials and security personnel deployed to conduct elections in the Highlands region to be on alert.

Pati said this following rumours of ballot papers floating around with some marked as legal and ready to be counted in favour of certain candidates.

Pati said to elect good leaders, the elections must be transparent and violence free.

He highlighted that voters must exercise their democratic rights without ballot papers being hijacked by desperate candidates.

Gamato: There are enough funds for Highlands Region

Gamato told media that the funds were managed by Waigani because in the past, there was poor management at the provincial level. 

“A lot of expenditures were committed at the provincial level without control so there is some expenditure that we thought we would control from Waigani.

“We have also released some operational funds to the provinces to get them ready for polling and counting period.

“As far as we are concerned, we released enough funds to start them off with polling while at the same time managing the key expenditure areas,” Gamato said.

Polling in Highlands going well despite delay

Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato confirmed in a media conference today that polling for Eastern Highlands Province commenced yesterday as scheduled.

However polling in Hela and Chimbu Province and some electorates in EHP were delayed.

Gamato says that the one-day polling in Simbu had to be deferred to sort out candidate grievances over the Electoral Roll.

Instead of polling in Hela on Monday, the day was spent addressing the issue of selected presiding officers disputed by a few candidates.

1,320 candidates for Highlands region

Among them were 49 females.

Eight hundred and eighteen of these candidates are contesting as independent while 502 were affiliated to a party.

Eastern Highlands Province tops the list of candidates contesting with 396, followed by Chimbu (320), Enga (162), Jiwaka (136), Southern Highlands (117), Western Highlands (117) and Hela (92).

The lowest number of candidates contesting is from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s electorate.

It has only 10 candidates putting their hand up to challenge the Prime Minister and leader of the People’s National Congress party.

​Highlands election operations to be launched

Police Commissioner Gari Baki said they are antcipating challenges and high security risks in the region.

“Most of the security personnel will be based in the highlands because the region presents a lot of encounters, in terms of security aspects.”

Baki is calling on locals to understand the election process and to work with police to make sure the elections run smoothly and on a safe and trouble-free note.

New banking program for Highlands region

The first-of-its-kind program has been announced by Westpac, the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP) and the Australian Government.

Choice Wantok is a new low-cost banking option specifically developed to suit people in the Highlands, an area where most people have never been able to access even basic banking services. 

Central to Choice Wantok will be a new Innovation Hub set up at Mount Hagen, bringing the latest technology to the Highlands and allowing Westpac to test ideas and tailor its services to meet the specific needs of remote communities.