7 Mar 2012

PNG soldiers to be sent to help East Sepik police

2:48 pm on 7 March 2012

The Papua New Guinea Government is sending soldiers to help police maintain law and order in East Sepik Province.

The Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, says the Cabinet has approved just under two million US dollars in funding to pay for a two- month deployment.

The O'Neill Government, which is in a struggle for legitimacy with a faction led by a former prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has also removed the financial powers of the East Sepik Provincial Government, claiming it has lost control of its people.

East Sepik is the home province of Sir Michael and one of a number of legal challenges to Mr O'Neill's legitimacy has come from the East Sepik administration.

NBC reports Mr O'Neill as saying that soldiers need to be sent because of an ongoing threat to the public, particularly the indiscriminate use of guns.

He says some local police have been discharging firearms without proper authority.

A police contingent of about 50 to 60 men is already in the provincial capital, Wewak.