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January 23, 2021

Former PNGDF Commander Says Recommended Callout of PNGDF is Premature

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Former PNG Defence Force Commander, retired Major General, Jerry Singirok, has come out public saying recommendation for a callout by the PNG Defence Force to quell unrests in the country is premature.

The Bougainville veteran who led the operation in 1997 to expel foreign mercenaries from Papua New Guinea believes all avenues to find a resolution have not been exhausted and the Defence Force option should be the very last.

Major General Singirok’s statement comes after the National Security Advisory Council recommended a possible call out if necessary.

“The reality is that the problems at the University of Goroka, UPNG and Unitech have already been localised. I believe that there is no need for a callout.

“It also raises a serious trend, because the government has not fully exhausted other means including calling on civil society.”

In 1997, protests erupted following a government decision to bring in foreign mercenaries to end the Bougainville War. Singirok then called on the Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, to step aside.

In previous statements, Major General Singirok has called for dialogue. Citing experiences of Bougainville as lessons that should be taken to heart to avoid military interventions in the early days of civilian uprisings.

Singirok is perhaps one most important authorities on civil unrest, internal security and military intervention in Papua New Guinea.

Today he issued another warning that the closure of the University of Technology and the suspension of classes at UPNG has put more than 5,000 educated Papua New Guineans out of school. Saying that itself is an ingredient for an internal security threat.

“The students have gone back to their provinces and they are there doing nothing.

“They are spreading their views and educating the public on what’s happening at the political and strategic level of government.”

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