Talks herald Wapenamanda massacre ceasefire in PNG tribal warfare

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Ceasefire expected in PNG Highlands
Ceasefire expected in PNG Highlands reports the PNG Post-Courier today . . . Peace negotiation for warring tribes on the Wapenamanda massacre still in progress. Image: PNG Post-Courier screenshot APR

PNG Post-Courier

A ceasefire is expected on the battlefields of Wapenamanda in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province that has claimed hundreds of lives and caused massive destruction to properties in three constituencies.

According to lead peace negotiator and Enga Provincial Administrator Sandis Tsaka, a ceasefire agreement is anticipated to be signed this week among three parties to solve the crisis.

These parties are the state and two warring tribal leaders to make way for the peace process to start.

The leaders of both warring factions are currently involved in intense negotiations with the State Conflict Resolution team led by key negotiator and Chief Magistrate Mark Pupaka in Port Moresby.

The state negotiating team comprises Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) Dr Philip Mitna; Assistant Commissioner of Police Julius Tasion; newly appointed Enga provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Fred Yakasa; Enga Provincial Administrator Sandis Tsaka and Chief Magistrate Pupaka.

The government negotiators are meeting and having discussions separately with each faction.

According to the state team, the roundtable conference was brought to Port Moresby because a ceasefire agreement and subsequently a Preventive Order issued in September last year failed.

Guerrilla-style warfare
The preventive order did not work when the tribal factions took up arms in guerrilla-style warfare.

The conference will ensure that both parties, including the allies of 25 tribes from Tsaka valley, Aiyale valley and Middle Lai constituencies, agree to an amicable resolution in consultations with neighbouring tribes.

The Yopo tribe’s leader Roy Opone Andoi of Tsaka valley apologised in a public statement to the state for damaging government properties and for the lives lost in the three-year tribal conflict.

The Yopo tribal alliance leader Roy Andoi (centre)
The Yopo tribal alliance leader Roy Andoi (centre) accompanied by tribal leaders presenting their position paper to the state team in Port Moresby yesterday. Image: PNG Post-Courier

Andoi said it was regrettable to see a “trivial” tribal conflict that started with his Yopo tribe and neighbouring Palinau tribe in Tsaka valley escalate to “unimaginable proportions”, displacing more than 40,000 people.

“I want to apologise to the state, rival tribes and neighbouring communities and the country for all the damage, including negative images portrayed through the media during the course of the conflict,” he said.

Andoi said he would like to take the opportunity to thank the government for appointing the state team, comprising Police Commissioner David Manning, Tsaka and Pupaka, to conduct roundtable discussions towards restoring peace and normalcy.

He said the government’s intervention came in following the latest casualties, including a massacre of more than 50 men from the Palinau allies by Yopo allies during an intensified battle on February 28 near Birip and Hela Opone Technical College on the border of Wapenamanda and Wabag districts.

Andoi said that with the help of the state team, he was hoping for a better outcome to bring back normalcy in the district and the province.

Republished from the PNG Post-Courier with permission.

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