The National, Monday 23rd January 2012
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE 2012 general election is on schedule, says Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
He cleared the air on speculation that it could be delayed because of the slow progress in completing the electoral rolls, saying if it was up to him, the election would be moved forward.
“I deny speculations that the election will be delayed,’’ he said.
“If it was for me, I will have called for an early election but the laws are there and that the election will be conducted as scheduled although there have been problems with the electoral roll.”
O’Neill called the press conference to also confirm that the heads of the two disciplined forces – military and police – would remain in their posts throughout the election.
He assured the nation he had no plans to make any changes in the two forces because stability was required to conduct the election.
Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga and Defence Force Commander Francis Agwi were present during the press conference.
“We are getting ready for election and the two forces are ready with their election budgets and the overall plans are in place and we have to respect that,’’ he said.
“Therefore, I assure the people of PNG that there will be no change in the post of the commissioner of police or the commander of defence as I have confidence in both men to lead the force and conduct a successful election.”
Meanwhile, confidential documents obtained by The National revealed that the Minister for Defence Guma Gau and Public Service Minister Bart Philemon had prepared a cabinet submission to replace Agwi.
The correspondence, dated Oct 19, Dec 7 and Dec 12 last year by the two ministers to the public service commission, also listed the five names of colonels – who have overseas experience, training and exposure – as possible candidates for the post.
The documents stated that Agwi had to be suspended because of serious concerns over his conduct and performance which had led to morale and capacity problems in the force.