The use of firearms is one of the three major threats identified by the Papua New Guinea joint security forces for General Election 2022, Deputy Commissioner of Police (operations) Anton Billie says.

“The threats for the security planners are bribery and social media,” he said.

Billie said the number of firearms in circulation in the lead up to the issuance of writs was unknown. However, a well-placed source confirmed that firearms were being moved between the Solomon Islands into Bougainville and then onto the mainland and from Indonesia into Papua New Guinea.

The National understands that there are more than 50,000 illegal firearms in circulation in the country since 2017.

“However, the exact number is unknown with the writs scheduled to be issued in the next five weeks,” Billie said.

Police special services division director Chief Superintendent Julius Tasion told a room full of provincial police commanders and directors that the threat assessment was real and the use of firearms would cause problems.

“In relation to bribery, the security forces can be bribed by candidates. They can be bribed by the Electoral Commission staff as well,” Tasion said.

“Social media will, and, as always, play a huge role in how Papua New Guineans will see the election.

“Many in the country tend to easily believe what is posted on social media and this can affect awareness planning and awareness in general,” he said.

Bougainville police chief Francis Tokura said the 10-year-old common roll will be used for General Election 2022.

“We do not have the updated common roll to use, so we will be using the old one,” he said.

“This is the record from the 2011 National Census and since then there were no updated records for 10 years now.”

Tokura said a different common roll (not the Electoral Commission’s roll) was used in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville referendum.

“We cannot be sure of the number of eligible voters in Bougainville, but from the record, there are 200,000 plus eligible voters; the figure for eligible voters is unrealistic.

“The voting population could be more than that.” On manpower, Tokura said there were 600 police personnel comprising 200 regular policemen, 300 community-assistant police and 60 reservists.

Meanwhile, former Moresby South MP Dame Carol Kidu has urged women to work with men as allies as they pursue their struggle for leadership and gender equality.

Dame Carol was speaking to 19 women leaders from 11 provinces during training on leadership and governance and community development at the Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance in Port Moresby last week.

“It is important to see our male counterparts as partners in development,” she said. “We should work with men.

“If you find one opposing your ideas on gender equality, walk to another one and get him to see and understand your view.”

Dame Carol said the national goals in the preamble of the Constitution and other laws were clear about political representation of women.

She said with no women in parliament and very few women in local level councils, the country had failed.

Dame Carol said efforts had been made to improve the situation at local level with the 2014 amendments to the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government.

“I commend the provinces and districts that are recognising the appointed women and call on them to put pressure on their colleagues that are not complying with the law to address the situation before the 2022 national elections,” she said.

“At the local level, PNG should introduce parity laws similar to the Melanesian French territories.