3 Aug 2006

State of emergency declared in PNG Southern Highlands province

9:52 am on 3 August 2006

It's been confirmed that a state of emergency has been declared in Papua New Guinea's southern highland province.

A police official says at least 800 police personnel and a platoon of soldiers will be deployed in the area at the end of this week.

He says curfews could be put in place, along with an amnesty period for the surrender of illegal firearms, many used by gangs supporting local political strongmen.

Our correspondent in Papua New Guinea, Alex Rheeney, reports.

"The southern highlands provincial government will no longer have power to deliver services or to access public funds. Now, that power will be given to a controller who will be appointed by the government to oversee the state of emergency. Police as well as defence forces have also been called up to fly into the province to address the law and order situation and restore normal government services."

Meanwhile, the Southern Highlands Governor Hami Yawari denies his province is in crisis.

He has been accused of giving cash handouts while public services deteriorated.