No need for guns to run PNG election: Police Minister

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Papua New Guinea Police Minister William Onglo says the country should not need guns to run the election.

“This should not be a concern, we should be running elections without guns, but in some areas around the country, we need guns to control the crowd and protect the citizens and (allow them to) exercise their democratic right (to vote),” he said.

“As much as possible, we want to avoid the use of firearms during the election.

“The use of firearms is only (required) when the security personnel are facing an imminent threat or when security personnel are caught in a situation that warrants the use of firearms.

“We are focused on this election and we want it to be free, fair and safe for all citizens who vote.
“Plans have been put into motion and we are working to ensure these plans work.

“This is important as we allow our people to vote good leaders in to lead their province and district for the next five years.”

Onglo said it was the Electoral Commission’s responsibility to deliver the election, however, because of the security issues associated with every election, police personnel and other state agencies were required to ensure safety and order during the polling period.

He called for the public to take ownership of the electoral process, stating that the goal of the Government was to deliver a free and fair election.

“We have gone through all our notes and have studied all our elections in 2012 and 2017 and as much as possible we have revised plans and we have come up with solutions to implement these plans. It will give us a good election for our people,” Onglo said.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner David Manning has assured that the procurement of firearms for the National Elections is for the protection of candidates, voters, the general public and the electoral process.

He said that the buying of guns and ammunition, whilst done for the elections, was also a part of the normal process by the Royal PNG Constabulary to replace aging weapons.

Manning was referring to media reports Wednesday which might have raised unnecessary alarm and making the police force out to be “preparing for war”.

“Yes, we have an ongoing programme to replace aging weapons over a period of time, weapons do become unserviceable but that does not mean we are preparing for war come the elections,” he said.

“Our intent in procuring firearms and ammunition is to ensure that our people have the best possible protection not only for themselves, anyone for that matter that is involved in the electoral process, including the voters.”

Manning added that apart from the procurement exercise, the police force had also reached out to bilateral partners for other security protection items such as body amours.

He noted that the police and security forces had been part of the National Elections process in the past and would continue to perform their duties in the coming elections starting next month.

“I need to remind our people that the involvement of the security forces in the electoral process is to provide a safe and secure environment for our people to exercise their democratic rights,” Mr Manning said.

“We do not assume the role of the Electoral Commission but it is very much our responsibility to ensure that the electoral process runs as smoothly as possible,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/POST COURIER/PACNEWS