After leaving the elections in the United States and arriving in time for election season in PNG, I can tell you that politics is a noisy business wherever you go. Most of the noise in the States was via electronics and the occasional bumper sticker or yard sign that seemed to yell at anyone who was supporting another candidate. The noise here came via loud speakers attached to the top of vehicles.
Around 6am these vehicles would start blaring music and shouting out their candidates need to be in office. This would go on for most of the day and between 9-10pm they would drive by saying, “Gut nait, Kudjip. Gut nait!” (Good night). Thankfully, someone decided the 2am political campaigning that was apart of the last election was no longer necessary this election.
A couple weeks ago, the noise came from helicopters. One helicopter after another flew overhead. It was quite the excitement as all the little missionary kids and PNG kids ran outside pointing, shouting and running with each new fly over. The helicopters were taking ballot boxes to different villages in preparation for voting. Not long after the helicopters flew by, the political vehicles became quiet.
Each region takes turns voting. In part, this gives security forces time to reach the next destination. If there’s problems in voting (ballot boxes being stolen or fighting) the security forces are delayed and so voting is delayed at the next location. Security forces can also be delayed by bad weather or road conditions. The area around Kudjip was supposed to vote two weeks ago, but that was postponed until Monday, July 3rd. At 6am on the 3rd, however, the police went through to let people know they would be voting on Tuesday instead.
The hospital has a polling station so that employees can vote without having to return to their home areas, since traveling long distances can be difficult, especially during election season. Everyone lines up to wait their turn. Pictures of the candidates are posted with a number beside each face. Each voter marks the number of the candidates they want to vote for.
On Wednesday after the voting, several of the roads were closed as were the markets. This was somehow linked to politics although I don’t know what exactly the problem was.
The votes in our area are now being tallied and the results are expected to be announced this week. Would you join us in praying during this time? While we are not in danger personally, this is not the case for many of our PNG friends. There is often fighting when the results are announced and bush knives are the weapon of choice. Bush knives (machetes) are long, very sharp and inflict a great deal of damage if not killing the victim. Last Saturday Nathan treated a man whose hand was completely amputated with one swipe of a bush knife. The doctors are planning to treat many more chop-chops (bush knife wounds) in the next few weeks as the result are announced.
Our family is praying for people of peace to be able to speak calm into potentially volatile situations. We are praying that God would give wisdom, courage and safety to His followers as they encounter these situations. Would you please join us in praying for the people in our area this week?