31 May 2012

NZ to provide logistical support during PNG election

5:58 pm on 31 May 2012

The New Zealand Government says Defence Force personnel being sent to Papua New Guinea to assist with the election will be there to provide logistical support.

Papua New Guinea has been involved in a leadership battle for the past 10 months since Sir Michael Somare was ousted as Prime Minister in favour of Peter O'Neill.

Three Iriquois helicopters and 40 people from the Royal New Zealand Air Force will be part of a contingent of about 250 personnel, with the rest from the Australian Defence Force.

Their assistance was requested so a safe, free and fair election can be held.

From June, the New Zealanders will operate across the lowland region and coastal townships, including the Papua New Guinea Islands.

New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully says he was approached some time ago by the PNG government because it was clear there were logistical challenges around the conduct of the polls.

Mr McCully says things are reasonably calm at the moment, and New Zealand personnel will be involved in transporting electoral commission staff and electoral supplies to remote locations.

Parliament was dissolved two weeks ago in the run-up to the general election, scheduled to start on 23 June, but has reconvened twice since then.

Murray McCully says PNG requested help from the New Zealand Government.

Murray McCully says PNG requested help from the New Zealand Government. Photo: RNZ