16 Aug 2006

Public servants also being sent to Southern Highlands under state of emergency

11:27 am on 16 August 2006

Teams of government officials are expected to follow the operation to restore security in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province.

An 800 strong team of police, prison guards and soldiers, is now based in and around the provincial capital Mendi after a national government decision to suspend the administration for maladministration.

PNG's assistant police commander, Deputy Commissioner Gari Baki, is heading the team.

He says they aim to restore public confidence and bring back basic services for the people.

Mr Baki says they plan to make a number of arrests including of those implicated in criminal activity by the provincial audit report.

He says the security forces will eventually need assistance from public servants in Port Moresby.

"We are taking the front line in terms of trying to stabilize the ground situation initially. There will be people from the Department of Finance coming in, there will be people from the Department of Personnel Management come in to support us, and support the administration in having to correct this mess."