Hagen flights suspended

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PROTESTS in Mt Hagen yesterday and on Wednesday in relation to the changing of the electorate’s returning officer (RO) has seen flights to Kagamuga Airport temporarily suspended.
Members of the Hagen open electorate staged the demonstration on Wednesday outside
Kagamuga Airport demanding answers over the change of their returning officer for this year’s general election.
Air Niugini responded by suspending flights into Kagamuga.
The airline said it was closely monitoring the situation and would advise customers and the public when it was safe to resume operations.
The National Airports Corporation (NAC), which owns all airports, also issued a cautionary notice to airline operators flying into Kagamuga Airport.
NAC managing director Rex Kiponge said the airport still remained open, however the decision for flight cancellations was solely the prerogative of the airlines based on their own risk assessments.
The protesters called for Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai to explain the last minute revocation of the gazetted RO.
The protesters indicated that services including the airport, businesses and public activities would be disrupted.
The leaders said their protest would continue this week and urged all business houses to shut down as opportunists could use the protest as an excuse to target them for looting.
Nominations for the Western Highlands regional seat and Hagen open began yesterday at the provincial administration office.
Highlands Eastern-end commander Joe Puri said that recent unrest in Mt Hagen was not election related but to do with relatives of a Southern Highlands man killed in Hagen causing disturbance as they took the body home.

Jiwaka police told to be neutral during elections
Gideon Kauke

POLICE officers in Jiwaka have been told not to associate with any intending candidates for the General Election.
Jiwaka police commander Superintendent Gideon Kauke said with the nomination period taking place, candidates, including sitting MPs, would be looking to promote themselves and influence others and police officers and other public servants needed to act ethically and professionally.
“We have to draw a line and leave the politics to the politicians and concentrate on police operations, especially providing policing to the people of Jiwaka during the election period,” he said.
Kauke said the police objective was to ensure a free and fair election.
He said the policemen and women should be transparent in their conduct during the election period.
“We must be an honest, competent and non-partisan organisation to assist the Electoral Commission to control the election,” he said.
Kauke appealed to the policemen and women assisting elections in Jiwaka to create a conducive environment for the people to participate fairly, freely and meaningfully in this election.

Fire chief urges supporters not to damage buildings

PAPUA New Guinea Fire Service Commissioner Bill Roo has urged supporters of political parties not to take their frustrations out on buildings by destroying or setting them on fire.
He is calling for a safe, violence-free general election and as such has cautioned the public, particularly the supporters of political parties, to be careful when out at polling stations or during the campaign period.
Roo added that even though the Fire Service Commission would not be actively involved in the elections, all 16 branches around the country would definitely be ready to turn up to any call or emergency during the nomination and polling periods.
“Our core functions will still be running every day, emergency services available to those that call and we will be on standby for any situation,” he said. Of the 16 branches, he said 12 were outside the National Capital District and all would be available 24/7.
He said some fire-fighters were also police reservists and would be released to help Police during the election period.

Political parties must stop poaching candidates, says Parkop

POLITICAL parties must stop poaching candidates, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader and National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop says.
Parkop also urged candidates not to hop from one party to another as this behaviour was unbecoming of leaders. The 60-year-old said this during the recent announcement of the candidates his party was endorsing for the general election.
Parkop said the number of candidates for endorsement was 41 but only 32 were named.
He said eight candidates were under the party but their endorsements had not been processed yet.
He added that these eight would self-fund their campaigns while two candidates had been poached however, one had been convinced to return to the SDP fold.
“The situation, as everybody knows, is some candidates are shifting here and there which is not a very good sign of leadership,” he said.
“This is something I want to call out all parties on is to stop poaching.
“To our people this is what I want to say – how people do things is how they do things.
“If they have shown their character in the beginning by hopping or shifting here and there – when they get into parliament they will do the same.”