CRACKDOWN ON PORGERA VIOLENCE UNDERWAY IN PNG

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200 policemen make up ‘Operation Ipili 09’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 20, 2009) – More than 200 policemen from four mobile squads in the country including police air unit and intelligent unit from the Defence Force moved into Porgera Valley in the Enga Province last Friday to stop lawlessness and illegal activities in the district.

"Operation Ipili 09" is on in the Porgera and Lagaip districts for the next six weeks.

It was officially launched at the Paiam Oval by the officers in charge and was witnessed by Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi, Police Commissioner Gari Baki, Member for Lagaip-Porgera Philip Kikala and Highlands police boss Simon Kauba.

The people of Porgera and different organisations in the mining town welcomed Operation Ipili on Saturday morning.

It was estimated to be about half of the population, that alleged to be illegal tenants that reside in Porgera valley had fled with their belongings to their respective districts and provinces last week.

A liquor ban has been imposed by the National Government in the district.

Local MP Philip Kikala said he would promote the liquor ban until 2012.

"Because of liquor, law and order problems have escalated from bad to worse. As of now, I will support the liquor ban in the area," Mr. Kikala said.

Commissioner Baki said the call-out was for the good of the innocent people and gold mine that had been affected by the attitudes of some people and also clamp down tribal fight in the area.

He said the troops were there to maintain law and order and peace in the area.

"I want Porgera-Lagaip to be a peaceful place after my men withdraw and peace must prevail for the rest of the generations to come," Mr. Baki said.

He said operations will also be conducted with help from the locals.

Mr. Rambi said the call-out exercise was to combat lawlessness in the area.

"It’s not a political matter as some prominent leaders from the province claimed but is for the good of the people and the Porgera gold mine which was affected severely by thousands of illegal miners forcefully entering the mining area every night and stealing gold.

Recently, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas claimed the call-out exercise was not in the best interest of the people of Porgera.

But Porgera landowner and Porgera Development Authority chairman Nixon Mangape brushed as Mr. Ipatas’ statement and said all leaders and the population of Porgera welcomed the call-out.

He said he used PDA money to buy ammunition and vehicle fleet for police in Porgera to combat lawlessness but it didn’t work out.

Porgera mine general manager Mark Fisher thanked the Government for the call-out operation.

Mr. Fisher said the mine faced problems with the illegal miners.

"I’ll support in whatever way I would to help call-out operation for the next six weeks," Mr Fisher said.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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