By GYNNIE KERO
CABINET has approved K6 million for the deployment of soldiers in Southern Highlands in a State of Emergency since Friday.
PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) chief of staff Captain Philip Polewara confirmed that 110-plus soldiers were deployed to Mendi on Saturday and a 6pm-6am curfew was in effect in the town.
With the State of Emergency, which is to remain for nine months, there is also a call-out of the Defence Force in the province, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said.
Polewara said they were specifically there to provide security for the State of Emergency.
The soldiers are from 1RPIR (First Royal Pacific Island Regiment) Taurama Barracks in Port Moresby.
O’Neill also told The National that schools in the province were expected to be open today.
“The actions of reckless individuals damaging property in Mendi has disgusted the nation,” he said.
“The State of Emergency in Southern Highlands will be in place for a period of nine months, and Thomas Eluh is being appointed as the Controller of the SoE.
“Put simply, I have had enough of this nonsense that has been manipulated by people who would call themselves leaders. Police will investigate every agitator and every person who was involved in the unrest we saw.
“No person is above the law and all involved will face the full force of the law and answer for any crime they have committed.
“The Southern Highlands has so much going for it, so many natural resources and agricultural potential.
“We will not let this potential be undermined by people who have failed in politics and want to cause disruption.
“It is important that we place the actions we saw (on Thursday) into context.
“The ridiculous behaviour by an unruly group is all about local level politics and attempts by failed politicians to vent their anger over their inability to be duly elected.
“If there is any group who thinks they can continue to cause trouble, they will find out very quickly that their actions will not be tolerated.”
The decision by the National Executive Council includes:
- Thomas Eluh to be appointed as the Controller of the State of Emergency, with powers, duties and functions as prescribed by the Constitution and Emergency Acts and Regulations;
- the deployment of police personnel, mobile squad and criminal investigators (CID) to the Southern Highlands with immediate effect;
- directing the commissioner of police, and the commander of the PNG Defence Force, in consultation with the controller, to immediately develop an operational order for the deployment of troops (police and military) to Southern Highlands for the SoE;
- the delegation of powers under Section 187E (5) of the Constitution and Sections 66 and 67 of the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-Level Governments for the prime minister to oversee the operations of the Southern Highlands government on behalf of NEC;
- directing the minister responsible for provincial government and local-level government matters to table a report at the next meeting of Parliament in accordance with Section 187E (6) of the Constitution;
- approval for the establishment of a technical committee under the leadership of the chief secretary to the government to coordinate the measures to be taken in restoring the administration of Southern Highlands in consultation with the acting provincial administrator and the controller;
- the approval of K6 million in funding to enable the SoE mobilisation immediately; and,
- Direction for all relevant ministries and agencies to take immediate actions to implement the decision of the National Executive Council.