Papua New Guinea: Election Polling Begins In 10 Days
Polling Begins In 10 Days
PORT MORESBY (PNG Post-Courier Editorial / Pacific Media Watch): Polling begins in 10 days time on June 23 when the country’s 4.8 million voters will cast their votes, but there are already mixed signals coming from different parts of the country.
In Mount Hagen on Friday, Government Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc officially launched the joint Defence Force, Police and Correctional Service national election security operation, code-named NATEL 2012.
The launch, attended by the security personnel of the three disciplined forces, was witnessed by police commissioner Tom Kulunga and commander of the PNGDF Brig Gen Francis Agwi.
Zurenuoc said preparations for the 2012 election have been better than the previous ones, with the Security Forces more organized, better equipped and capable of handling any problems that may arise. This is good news for the country.
But a day later, the commander of the PNGDF National Election Joint Task Force for the Highlands, Lt Col Ezekia Wenzel, revealed that certain political factions are up to no good.
According to military intelligence, members of these factions have travelled to Port Moresby with large amounts of money to bribe security personnel and buy army, police and correctional service uniforms to wear during the polling period to impersonate security troops with the hope they will get away with illegal activities to boost their candidates’ chances of winning.
There is no place for such activities and the sooner the security forces arrest the people involved the better it will be for everyone. They must be locked up, charged and imprisoned for their crimes.
A day later and not far away in Jiwaka, an incident occurred which highlights what can go wrong.
Supporters of North Wahgi MP Benjamin Mul came across a police roadblock and smashed a police vehicle because they suspected two police officers of supporting a rival candidate.
Highlands divisional police commander Teddy Tei has confirmed that the roadblock was manned by policemen believed to be from Nondugl police station and three female companions who were drinking beer at the time.
Two of the police officers are believed to be close associates of a former government minister who is now challenging Mul. Commander Tei described the incident as very serious and investigations are now under way and the officers implicated will be charged and dealt with. Police officers should not do such things.
Then there’s a story about a grassroots candidate for the remote seat of Karamui Nomane in Chimbu who walks with his 2000 supporters for 20km from his home to the nearest patrol post to nominate.
“My legs are aching but I enjoyed the walk,” he said, adding that leadership is the biggest problem for PNG today.
“If we do not change our current course, this country will be like a Mack truck out of control going downhill heading for disaster. We need new people at the steering wheel to provide better leadership to change the course of this nation. After 37 years, we are worse off now than we were in 1975,” he said.
Every Papua New Guinean is hoping that we will be better off sooner rather than later.