7 Aug 2006

PNG leader says Southern Highlands state of emergency declared too close to election

8:29 pm on 7 August 2006

A Papua New Guinea businessman and former politician with strong links to Southern Highlands Province, Frances Awesa, has expressed concerns over aspects of the state of emergency announced last week.

The Government has suspended the provincial government and will send in police and an arm unit as efforts are made to restore services and end corruption.

Mr Awesa, who has for years worked with the Mendi Peace Commission, says he commends the government's action but fears it is too close to next June's election and that politicians are to be involved.

Mr Awesa says the conditions for such an intervention existed three or four years ago.

"But now, because it is too close to the election and because it involves national members of parliament from the province, I don't know how far it will achieve. I would have left it to the other people, including the Mendi Peace Commission, a lot of NGOs on the ground who are well versed in the problems - their involvement would have given a lot of credibility."