PNG POLICE BUY 7 AIRCRAFT FOR ELECTION SECURITY

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By Clifford Faiparik

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 12) –Papua New Guinea police took delivery of seven aircraft in Port Moresby last Friday as they prepare for their 2007 national election security operations.

These comprise six helicopters and a Twin-Otter aeroplane, which were bought and or maintained from the PGK50 million [US$17.2 million] election security budget.

They will be used in two weeks time to deploy police and electoral commission personnel and the transportation of ballot boxes to polling sites during the election period.

Police Commissioner Gari Baki, when taking delivery of the aircraft at the Helifix hanger at the Jackson Airport, said the aircraft were part of their security plan hatched over two years.

"It also signals the beginning of police operations for this year’s national elections. This week the deployment of troops for the elections will begin and by this weekend, our communications and planning team will depart for the Highlands."

Mr Baki said these aircraft symbolised the security forces and the electoral commission’s commitment in ensuring a peaceful election.

"Air support operations are a very important and necessary requirement for the conduct of police security operations due to the difficult terrain, poor road infrastructure or in some areas the complete lack of even a basic road network."

Mr Baki said that they had asked the National Government for PGK87 million [US$29.9 million] for the conduct of security operations.

"However, we were given K50 million. I told the Government that we would work within the amount given. I am now confident of yet another successful national general election. My confidence is based on the results of the five by-elections that used the limited preferential voting (LPV) system in recent times. We are not saying it will be trouble free. But I’d like to be positive than negative all the time. Sometimes, our preconceived ideas or perceptions play a part in influencing the final outcome. So we are prepared. Should there be any trouble, especially in the Highlands provinces, communications and logistics, especially air support, can and will assist in the conduct of successful police security operations."

Mr Baki said that after the election they might use the Twin-Otter to transport police personnel and their families throughout the country.

"We might use it for border surveillances."

Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari, Electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen, Transport Secretary Henry Parake and Helifix managing director Robert Agarobe attended the event.

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