PNG security forces launch election operations in Highlands

8:25 pm on 25 May 2017

Security operations for Papua New Guinea's general election are being launched in the Highlands city of Mt Hagen today.

300 personnel from the Police, Defence Force and Correction Services are to attend a parade in the Western Highlands capital.

PNG Police at the 2015 Pacific Islands Forum meeting.

PNG Police at the 2015 Pacific Islands Forum meeting. Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

According to the Post Courier, the parade marks the beginning of a deployment that will see over 1000 extra personnel in the Highlands as the election proceeds.

Campaigning is now in full swing, with a two-week polling period to begin on 24 June before vote counting starts.

Recent security incidents underline why the Highlands is identified as PNG's most high-risk region for security threats at election time.

Crowd at an election rally in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea.

Crowd at an election rally in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Last week police in Eastern Highlands confiscated a load of high powered weapons and ammunitions, as well as military and police uniforms, bound for Southern Highlands.

Increased police roadblocks have been mounted along the entire Highlands highway and in urban centres.

Ialibu-Pangia district in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province.

Ialibu-Pangia district in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province. Photo: Supplied/Peter Kinjap

Police Commissioner Gari Baki has said that provision of extra security manpower would be made for areas where election-related unrest emerged.

Both the police and Defence Force air squadron units would be on standby in Mt Hagen, with members of the police mobile squad units who would be flown out into any trouble spots.

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