Security forces and PNG Electoral Commission officials in the Southern Highlands Province met this week to look at strategies to complete counting before 12 August, the new date for the return of writs for the 2022 National General Election.
“Counting in the province is a bit slow so I had a meeting with the Provincial Election Manager Mr Alwyn Jimmy, the Quick Response Force Commanders, Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector Daniel Yangen and the electoral officials in the province to strategise on how we can fast-track the counting,” Highlands Western End Commander acting Assistant Commissioner John Kale said.
Mr Kale said counting in the Southern Highlands province is so far progressing well without any major election related issues, however, he has received police intelligence reports of an alleged build-up of firearms within Mendi township.
There were also reports of certain candidates intending to block off the two roads into Mendi from Tente and Kiburu but they were warned not to do so.
Mr Kale said security concerns is also another reason the authorities are looking at completing the counting quicker.
“We told the electoral commission officials to speed up counting and they are doing that now. The way they are planning their counting process looks good and we should be winding down the counting by next week,” Mr Kale said.
In the meantime, Mr Kale has appealed to all the candidates to cooperate with the security forces and the counting officials to ensure the counting is completed well before August 12.
“I also want the public to refrain from creating unnecessary disturbances during the counting and declaration periods,” Mr Kale said.
The Commander said polling for Southern Highlands was done peacefully and he expects the same to be maintained during counting and declaration.
Mr Kale said the security personnel consisting of the PNG Correctional Services, PNG Defense Force and the Police are doing a great job in providing security during the 2022 National General Election.