PNG premier calls for Australian Federal Police intervention to quell gun violence ‘crisis’ threatening LNG operations

PHOTO: Tribal fighting is a persistent problem in Hela province. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

PHOTO: Tribal fighting is a persistent problem in Hela province. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

ABC Radio | 2 March 2017

The premier of Papua New Guinea’s Hela province is calling for an Australian Federal Police intervention to quell an outbreak of lawlessness he says has reached crisis point.

Key points:

  • Premier says province is awash with arms, including high-powered weapons
  • Describes situation as crisis with resource-rich province on the brink of failure
  • Says external help is essential, claiming some police are smuggling weapons for warlords

Premier Francis Potape said an escalating wave of armed violence exacerbated by some police officers was threatening critical liquefied natural gas and oil resources.

“Police in Hela province are good but there are also a few individuals who are rogue police and they assisted war lords to bring in weapons from the neighbouring highland provinces. And also, also they have supplied bullets to warring tribes,” he said.

“This accumulation of weapons came to a stage where it is, that part of the province, of the country, is coming to a failed, crisis situation and we need someone from the outside.”

Police were refusing to act on arrest warrants against scores of suspects and high-powered weapons were amongst those smuggled into the country, he added.

Tribal fighting in the province is a persistent problem in Hela province but flared up dramatically last year.

In response, a joint PNG police and military intervention was launched to gather as many illegal weapons from local people as possible, reportedly with mixed results.

Exxon-Mobil’s PNG LNG project in Hela — the country’s largest resources venture — has been repeatedly disrupted by incursions and blockades from disgruntled landowners, who complain they have not duped on promised royalties.

Mr Potape did not say if he had run his rather extraordinary request past PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Australian Federal Police representatives could not be reached for comment.

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2 Comments

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

2 responses to “PNG premier calls for Australian Federal Police intervention to quell gun violence ‘crisis’ threatening LNG operations

  1. Premier Potape should know better. He should not run to seek help from another sovereign country when PNG has enough manpower to do the job. You who was supposed to help solve internal conflicts and problems decide to dish it out to foreigners to do it, than you are undermining the credibility of the hard working men and women in blue the country has invested in.

  2. Radio New Zealand, 3 March 2017

    Papua New Guinea’s Opposition Leader Don Polye is calling for the petroleum and energy sector to ensure resource owners’ get greater benefits.
    Speaking at the inaugural petroleum and energy summit being underway in Port Moresby, Mr Polye said the discussions have been one-sided – focussing on corporate profitability, while the interests of landowners have been ignored.

    Mr Polye says earnings from the sector must also benefit the people and secure their futures.

    He says PNG’s human development index has worsened despite the existence of world-class energy projects in the country.

    The biggest project is the ExxonMobil-led Liquefied Natural Gas project which has commercialised gas fields in the country’s Highlands region.
    The US$19 billion LNG Project began exports to Asian markets in 2014, but landowner communities are still complaining that they have seen little in the way of benefits from the project.

    While their grievances have tended to be with government rather than developer, landowners mounted various protests last year, demanding outstanding project payments, and greater share of equity in the project.
    See
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/325790/call-for-greater-returns-for-png-resource-owners

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