Australia's election support

AN AUSTRALIAN support package to help Papua New Guinea host its looming election mid-year will include military and technical support.
Australia's election support Australia's election support Australia's election support Australia's election support Australia's election support

According to Australia's The National Times, the package includes two Australian military helicopters, 30 computers to tackle electoral roll difficulties and lending Australian experts to act as advisors for the PNG Electoral Commission.

The Australian Federal Police reportedly completed a new $2.5 million communications network to help PNG police respond to any election-related violence.

Australia's high commissioner to Port Moresby Ian Kemish reportedly said no Australian police would be deployed in PNG as a "bobby on the beat" during the election.

"You can really say now the country is at a political watershed," Kemish reportedly said. "This election in June to July this year will be historic - people have said that before, but it will be this time around."

There are fears that violence will erupt in various Highlands locations during the election over June and July. While there are some suggestions that the election could be delayed, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is on the record as being against such a move.

This is despite his criticism of the failed national census last year and other concerns over the accuracy of electoral rolls.

O'Neill remains the effective prime minister, even though Sir Michael Somare was upheld as the rightful PM by the Supreme Court in December.

Somare recently told The National he would contest his East Sepik seat in the mid-year election.

"I want to retire but I want to prove them wrong," he told the PNG newspaper.

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