2 Jul 2002

Police in PNG's Chimbu province given extra powers to fight electoral violence

10:28 am on 2 July 2002

Local authorities in Papua New Guinea's Chimbu province have declared the region a "fighting zone" because of violence during the just completed elections.

The Peace and Good Order Committee made the declaration because of threats against polling officials, violence and riots in remote townships by supporters of rival candidates.

The Provincial police commander, Samson Mapi says the declaration will last a month and will give police wide ranging powers.

Commander Mapi says police will be able to raid and search homes without a search warrant and instantly arrest and disarm troublemakers.

"Police have the same power like any other local laws that enforce police to arrest people and all that, it's the same job, it's just that the difference is that the penalities involved are very serious in carrying offensive weapons or whatever. During polling, in some districts in Chimbu, they had started burning houses and we had some reports of couple of people killed and all that and so we have just have to do that very carefully. The fighting zone does not give total power to the police."

Provincial Police Commander, Samson Mapi says counting of Chimbu's ballot papers will begin this week.