4 Oct 2017

200 police and soldiers being sent to Mendi in PNG

9:04 pm on 4 October 2017

The Papua New Guinea National Security Council is deploying 200 police and Defence Force personnel to combat lawlessness in Mendi in the Southern Highlands.

Chaos in Mendi, 3 October 2017.

Chaos in Mendi, 3 October 2017. Photo: Melvin Levongo

Violence has been continuous since the election and, on Tuesday, our correspondent in the town reported business activity was at a standstill, with shops, the airport and the radio station shut down.

It followed the killing of two police officers at the weekend and a total of more than 30 across the Highlands over the past two months, amid tensions aroused by the election in June.

Police commissioner Gari Baki said four units of the police Mobile Squad and a platoon of PNGDF soldiers are leaving today for Mendi.

Mr Baki will also fly into Mendi for an emergency meeting aimed at restoring peace.

The Post Courier reported him saying this whole situation came about because of the election and ultimately the declaration of William Powi as Southern Highlands governor last week.

He said he wanted to meet with the leaders to see what solutions could be reached.

Mr Baki has also warned former candidates whose supporters continue to disrupt Mendi town that they will be dealt with.

He said the destruction of property and the shooting of the police officers were all politically motivated.

Our correspondent reported that, on Tuesday prisoners were moved from the main prison in Southern Highlands, Buiebi, which is just outside Mendi, to Baisu jail in Western Highlands.

Peaceful protest against ongoing unrest in Mendi, 4 October 2017.

Peaceful protest against ongoing unrest in Mendi, 4 October 2017. Photo: Melvin Levongo

Meanwhile on Wednesday over a thousand people in Mendi held a peaceful protest against the ongoing unrest.

Frustrated and terrified locals took to the streets calling on candidates and their supporters, as well as opportunists to stop causing chaos.

The protest was led by local residents who said they were trying to raise awareness about the issues at the heart of the unrest.

An open forum has been organised for Thursday to further discuss the ongoing problems.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs