Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday lawyer Kerenga Kua was insulting police and PNG Defence Force personnel deployed on election duties by describing them as armed troops out to impose martial law in the country.
Mr Kua was quoted in the Post Courier newspaper yesterday as saying PNG was now under martial law, with heavily armed security forces patrolling the streets.
“There is no martial law in the country. Under a call-out sanctioned by Cabinet, police, Defence Force, and Correctional Service personnel are being deployed throughout the country to ensure a free and safe election.
“The people demanded that the elections be held on time, and that security be adequate so the environment is safe. Investors like the developers of the PNG LNG project were worried about the security of their projects during the election period.
“The government responded in the best way possible by authorizing a call out and deployed the troops to areas identified as potential trouble spot areas.
“Off course these security forces have to be armed to carry out their jobs effectively. It’s not an easy exercise for troops operating in a tough and volatile environment, and the least they expect is unwarranted criticism from a learned person like Kua.
“If Kua feels that the presence of armed security forces in his area is overbearing, he should raise such concern with the commanding officer on the ground so security operations there can be reviewed.
“I’m sure most people in Sinasina-Yongomugl would welcome the presence of security forces in their electorate so they are given every opportunity to vote for a new leader in a free and safe environment,” the Prime Minister said.