Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says all those involved in election-related violence and crimes will face the full force of the law.
He said this yesterday (August 21 2022) when commenting on the ongoing violence in Mendi, Southern Highlands, since the burning of ballot boxes in the Mendi Police Station in the early hours of last Thursday (August 18 2021).
PM Marape said he met with Mendi-Munihu MP-elect Raphael Tonpi, Police Commissioner David Manning and PNG Defence Force Commander Major-General Mark Goina immediately after the burning of ballot boxes.
“We met in anticipation of the situation in Mendi getting a bit out of control, which happened over the weekend,” he said.
“Police and PNGDF will ensure the law-breakers are brought to justice, and the situation is curtailed and not allowed to get out of hand.
“We will start work immediately into post-election investigations into illegal practices, violence and crimes.“
“This work will be headquartered in Mendi and will move on there to Enga, Hela, Western Highlands and the other Highlands provinces.” PM Marape said those involved in illegal practices, violence and crimes during the elections should release that they were just being used as “pawns” in a deadly game.
“The sponsors of these crimes will get away and you, who are just being used as pawns, will either end up being killed or face the full force of the law,” he said.
“I encourage those involved in these activities in Mendi to stop immediately because Police and Military will be in full force there for the rest of the year to investigate, arrest and bring you to justice.
“This applies not only to Mendi and Southern Highlands, but also to Enga, Hela, Western Highlands and other Highlands provinces.” Pm Marape said in 2017, after large-scale violence in Southern Highlands, there was no commitment by then prime minister Peter O’Neill to prosecute those responsible.
“My Government chooses to differ and is totally committed to bringing to justice those responsible for election-related crimes,” he said.
“I will leave no stones unturned in as far as the Mendi incident, and others in the Highlands provinces, are concerned.”
PM Marape announced that a Parliamentary Committee would be established as a matter of urgency to review the 2022 General Election. “As far as Government is concerned,” he added,
“we gave full monies of K600 million to the PNG Electoral Commission, Police and Military to conduct the elections and we do not know why all these problems have erupted,” he said.
“I assure the nation that we at Government will undertake a full review into what transpired, including the Common Roll, logistics, transportation, performance of Electoral Commission officers from the top right through the rank-and-file.
“The investigation will be carried out by a high-level Parliamentary Committee that will be composed of both Opposition and Government MPs.
“It will probe and report to Parliament so that the mistakes of the past are never repeated as we look to the 2027 General Election and beyond.”