Security forces to focus on Highlands region

National

SECURITY personnel engaged for the elections will be focusing mostly on the Highlands region, says Police Commissioner Gari Baki.
Baki told government departmental heads, who met at Agiru Centre in Mendi, Southern Highlands, to discuss issues in relation to the election, that there were still issues in the Highlands which needed close attention.
“The entire Highlands region is a high-risk area and so is the Autonomous Region of Bougainville,” the police commissioner said. “Port Moresby will also be a high-risk area too but the Highlands region is where more focus should be given.”
Baki said Hela went through a gun-surrender exercise but most of the guns surrendered were homemade ones and there was a possibility that high-powered weapons would be used during the election period.
He said for the past five years, Southern Highlands witnessed peace but this did not mean there would be no threats or disruptions during the election period.
“Threats that would be encountered during the elections are proliferation of weapons in the Highlands and country, tempering of the common roll, ballot papers and ballot boxes, bribery of the security force and election officials, tribal conflicts and rivalry, sabotage, hostage threats and organised crimes,” Baki said.
He said there would be concentration of mobile squad units and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel in the Highlands.
“Mobile squad, Correctional Emergency Response Team and PNGDF Long Range Reconnaissance Unit will provide quick reaction force in the Highlands,” Baki said.
“PNGDF and the Correctional Services are working with police to make sure the election is safe, free and fair,” Baki said.
PNGDF commander Gilbert Toropo and Correctional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo supported Baki, saying they were prepared to make sure the election was successful.
Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari commended the security forces, saying he was happy that they had assured a free, fair and safe election.

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