By PNG Echo
Well is he really? Engan, that is.
Because, in an electorate that’s riven with internecine violence, Polye’s rise to power has hardly been a unifying force – quite the opposite.
He has the dubious honour of an attempted assassination on his life during a political rally in Kandep in 2007.
It’s clear that this ‘true son of Enga’, is not loved by all.
The gunman may have been enraged about the voting practices that had a National Court in Waigani (August 2009) order that the 2007 election result in Kandep (a Polye win) be set aside and a by-election called.
The sitting judge said it was hard to believe some of the polling stations could return 100% votes for a candidate.
But if the original vote was suspect, the subsequent by-election was no different.
A disgruntled voter told PNG Echo:
Counting [in the by-election] should have happened in Wabag [Enga Province]. However, “due to security concerns,” [according to Polye] the ballot boxes were transported from Enga, to Hagen, to Simbu and then ended up in Goroka where counting was allowed.
He went on to explain:
Four days on the road – plenty of time for ballot stuffing. Not surprising he [Polye] won by another ‘landslide’.
By 2012, though, things had been sorted.
There was no longer any need to ship the ballot boxes all over the countryside as Returning Officer, Naipet Kea, was prepared: taking charge of the ballot boxes and smoothing the way for Polye’s eventual win (whatever that means).
In fact, Polye was so convinced of his eventual victory that he had himself ‘declared’ ahead of reaching an absolute majority. Polye (and one of his wives) were large presences in Kandep; there to claim victory.
Violence at election time in Enga Province is amongst the worst to be found in a country renowned for the violence that surrounds elections – and 2012 was no different.
It was reported that just before the elections there were three “Engan MPs” amassing firearms. Photographs were posted on the internet, of Polye’s cousins and even his son, posing with firearms around this time.
Described as a ‘Warlord’, it’s a fitting title for Polye: a ‘Big Man’ leading a bellicose tribe.
In fact, the main protagonists in Kandep’s violence are Polye’s Kambirup Tribe and the Akulya tribe that has, at its head, Alfred Manase (an aspiring, but losing, parliamentary candidate).
So while it may be tribal violence that is the effect in Kandep, its causes are political
In the 2012 election violence, Kandep Station was destroyed. 70% of public servants houses were razed when fighting broke out.
The human cost was in the vicinity of 100 lives.
The consequences of the conflict may have been avoided had the ‘firearms raid’ by Engan police, leading up to the elections, been pursued vigorously.
On the contrary, it has been alleged, by a reputable source, (and easily verifiable by those that have custody of the records) that Polye had the Provincial Police Commander responsible for the firearms bust, Teddy Tei, replaced with Martin Lakari (known to be beholden to Polye) and all the police personnel involved transferred to different provinces.
If there is any veracity to this allegation, then Polye has Engan blood on his hands.
Are these the “Services to the people of Kandep” to which Her Majesty the Queen was referring when she bestowed the prestigious award on the Hon Treasurer?