MAC: Mines and Communities

No to call-out - Ipatas opposes troops for Enga

Published by MAC on 2009-04-14
Source: The PNG National (2009-04-09)
ENGA Governor Peter Ipatas yesterday said the National Executive Council's decision to deploy members of the PNG Defence Force and police under a call-out order in Porgera was not in the best interest of the people of Porgera and Enga province.

Mr Ipatas made the statement following a consultative meeting at the Porgera Development Authority (PDA) office on Tuesday, which was attended by Enga provincial government officials and leaders of different factions in Porgera and the surrounding areas including Paiela.

The NEC made a decision two weeks ago to deploy army and police under a call-out order to combat lawlessness in Porgera in light of an upsurge in lawlessness, including tribal fighting and illegal mining in the gold-rich area.

The NEC came up with the decision following a petition by leaders in Porgera calling for a call-out order to be imposed in the area. The troops are expected to be deployed next week.

Mr Ipatas said it was clear following the meeting that the tribal fights in Lower Porgera and Tipinini area (near the mine) and the ongoing illegal mining did not warrant a call-out, particularly when law enforcing bodies including police and provincial law and order authorities were not fully utilised.

Mr Ipatas said long-term strategies the leaders identified during the meeting included the establishment of a permanent mobile squad, increasing the number of police personnel for general duties and the building of a proper police barracks, which the respective authorities needed to look at.

"We have also established during the meeting that the trouble-makers, mostly outsiders, had fled Porgera upon learning that the army was going to be deployed.

"This means, a call-out order is not needed, instead the concerned authorities should come together to look at the long-term strategies to manage law and order issues in Porgera," he said.

He also said illegal mining was a problem which needed to be addressed at the administrative levels of the respective governments and the company and not by way of imposing a call-out order.

Mr Ipatas said in the short term, it was the position of the people of Porgera and his government that increased police personnel be deployed in Porgera to work with provincial law and order authorities to restore peace in the area.

"What we want is increase in police personnel because we have not utilised them yet.

"In fact, the police are trained to enforce law and order and we are confident that they will do a great job when deployed in Porgera, and not the army," he said.

PDA chairman Dickson Mangape and Porgera law and order committee chairman Evarene Lawaita said the people of Porgera did not want a call-out order or a declaration of a State of Emergency because such approaches had failed in the past to achieve their purposes.

"What we want is for the authorities concerned to come together and talk about coming up with long-term solutions to law and order problems in Porgera," they said.

The two leaders also said they had made a mistake by signing a petition which was prepared by Lagaip-Porgera MP Philip Kikala to request for a call-out order in Porgera.

"Most of our leaders have signed the petition without reading the content of it," they said.

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