13 Apr 2012

Regional force proposed to secure PNG elections

3:16 pm on 13 April 2012

The Australian federal government has been urged to arrange a regional security force to secure the peace during Papua New Guinea's coming elections.

PNG's political leaders are split on whether the poll, scheduled for June, should go ahead at that time, but Australia's parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, Richard Marles, says it is vital that it does.

The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Scott Flower of Melbourne University as saying he doubts the security resources available in PNG are up to preventing violence, intimidation and ballot hijacking.

He has suggested Australia urgently consider organising a regional security force, possibly with helicopter support from the US.

A specialist on Melanesia at the Australian National University, Nicole Haley, says the impending election is shaping up as worse than the malpractice-ridden 2007 elections.

Dr Haley says based on the current situation, the elections are likely to be violent, marred by fraud and malpractice on a scale not seen before and with security personnel both partisan and politicised.