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Democracy Hijacked in Anarchic PNG

Sydney Morning Herald

13 July 2002

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Rex Magau lies in Mount Hagen Hospital, his left arm shattered by a bullet from an M-16, the result of trying to do his bit for democracy in Papua New Guinea…

"Democracy has fallen through, it's just a name we are using," the hospital chief, James Kintwa, said. "People don't have their rights. In some places it's, 'I've got a gun here and you have to vote for me'. Candidates realise they can't win this battle by being honest."

The death toll from poll-related violence stands at 20. Locals say the Highlands, the resource-rich heart of PNG, has become a war zone ruled by tribal gangs supplied with high-powered weapons by election candidates, including one cabinet minister. A mix of greed for political power and tribal loyalties has created a deadly arms race, leaving police outnumbered and outgunned.

ID: N67

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