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Declaration of State of Emergency in Southern Highlands Province

A media release from the office of the Prime Minister today (June 15) states the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has announced that the National Executive Council (NEC) has approved the declaration of a State of Emergency for the Southern Highlands Province, and a call-out of the Defence Force in the province.

According to the release, the National Executive Council has agreed to a course of action that will restore order in the Southern Highlands, ensure all Leaders with potential involvement in unlawful behavior are held to account, and prevent further unlawful activities.

“The actions of reckless individuals damaging property in Mendi has disgusted the nation,” the Prime Minister said.  “The State of Emergency in Southern Highlands Province will be in place for a period of nine months, and Mr. Thomas Eluh is being appointed as the Controller of the SOE.  “but simply, I have had enough of this nonsense that has been manipulated by people who would call themselves leaders.  “Police will investigate every agitator, and every person who was involved in the unrest we saw yesterday (June 14).

“No person is above the law and all involved will face the full force of the law and answer for any crime they have committed.  “The Southern Highlands Province has so much going for it, so many natural resources and agricultural potential. “We will not let this potential be undermined by people who have failed in politics and want to cause disruption. “The Southern Highlands Provincial Government has been suspended, and I will oversee the operations of the Southern Highlands Provincial Government on behalf of the National Executive Council.

“It is important that we place the actions we saw yesterday (June 14) into context. “The ridiculous behavior by an unruly group is all about local level politics and attempts by failed politicians to vent their anger over their inability to be duly elected. “If there is any group who thinks they can continue to cause trouble, they will find out very quickly that their actions will not be tolerated.”

The Decision by the National Executive Council includes;

  • The suspension of the Southern Highlands Provincial Government with immediate effect for the duration of the State of Emergency,
  • Mr. Thomas Eluh to be appointed as the Controller of the State of Emergency, with powers, duties and functions as prescribed by the Constitution and Emergency Acts and Regulations,
  • The deployment of Police personnel, mobile squad and criminal investigators (CID) to the Southern Highlands Province with immediate effect,
  • Directing the Commissioner of Police, and the Commander of the PNG Defence Force, in consultation with the Controller, to immediately develop an operational order for the deployment of troops (police and military) to Southern Highlands Province for the SOE,
  • The delegation of powers under Section 187E(5) of the Constitution and Sections 66 and 67 of the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments for the Prime Minister to oversee the operations of the Southern Highlands Provincial Government on behalf of the NEC,
  • Directing the Minister Responsible for Provincial Government and Local Level Government matters to table a report at the next meeting of the Parliament in accordance with Section 187E(6) of the Constitution,
  • Approval for the establishment of a Technical Committee under the Leadership of the Chief Secretary to the Government to coordinate the measures to be taken in restoring the  administration of the Southern Highlands Province in consultation with the acting Provincial Administrator and the Controller,
  • The approval of K6 million in funding to enable the SOE mobilisation immediately and
  • Direction for all relevant Ministries and Agencies to take immediate actions to implement the Decision of the National Executive Council.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister

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