PNG ELECTIONS FACE MINEFIELD OF DANGERS

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June12) - We sincerely hope that the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary to Government are right when they assert that our nation will get through the elections without major troubles.

There can be no doubt that almost all people echo the leaders’ hopes of a smooth conduct of the elections.

Polling is due to start at the end of this month and the return of writs is to be made on July 30.

Between now and then is a whole minefield of potential explosions.

That minefield will only detonate in one or more explosions if a handful of troublemakers succeed in thwarting the efforts of a large security force and of the responsible public servants trying to ensure the national elections go well.

It is that handful of spoilers who must be watched and controlled.

These are the people who are so desperate for power that they would foment troubles with the aim of disrupting the process of lawful polling.

Their aim in doing so would be to prevent the right people winning and to install their own candidates.

We have seen sporadic efforts at achieving these illegitimate and devious aims in past elections.

Bogus voters have been pushed through the system, leading to "dead" people voting. Ballot boxes have been hijacked on the way to counting centers; others have been set on fire.

A repeat of such criminal acts must be prevented.

That is why we hope the wishes of the Prime Minister and the chief adviser are backed up with cohesive and well thought out planning on the part of the key electoral planners, including their backup troops from the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and the Defence Force.

It has to be a team effort from the public servants and the security forces.

Vigilance must be maintained to ensure that attempts to "fix’’ the elections are stymied.

It is heartening that the security forces will be aided by the use of four helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft.

Mobility is a major key to the success of the elections 2007 team.

Those aircraft will help electoral officers to get into the difficult locations and do their job, then returning to the central offices to complete the task free of threats, promises and attacks.

We earnestly hope that the optimism voiced by Mr. Lupari and Sir Michael is justified and that we can then turn around and face the world with confidence.

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