By JAMIE HARO
SECURITY in the Highlands have been strengthened with the deployment of soldiers from two companies for the 2022 general election, PNG Defence Force Commander Major-General Mark Goina says.
The companies, of about 200 soldiers, were deployed since last month for security purposes and preparations for the election.
“We deployed two companies since April 1 to the Highlands – one in Hela and a platoon (about 30 soldiers) each in Enga and Western Highlands,” he said.
Goina told The National that the deployment was done ahead of the election due to security instability in the Highlands.
“One company (about 90 soldiers) has been deployed to support Exxon Mobil at the LNG site, with additional troops deployed for security stability in Tari after police residence were burnt down, a platoon was deployed to Porgera following the ethnic clash at the mine site and the recent clash in Mt Hagen,” he said. The Government last week declared a state of emergency (SoE) in Porgera due to the ongoing trial fight that has claimed 20 lives.
The SoE will be in force until December.
Goina said PNGDF would be supporting police to help the Electoral Commission conduct the election. In terms of logistic support, he said they had expended 40 per cent of the funds they received to service providers.
He said the remaining funds would be used to secure accommodation and hire vehicles.
Goina added that in the next few days, they would deploy personnel to the Highlands and other parts of the country before polling begins.
Also in Chimbu, Kerowagi MP Bari Palma escaped unhurt after he was allegedly attacked by a crowd on Thursday.
Police are yet to comment on the incident.
Chimbu returning officer Rev Tom Sine yesterday confirmed that “there was a disruption at Kerowagi last week when Palma went to nominate” but it was solved yesterday.
By JAMIE HARO