By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinean security forces have intercepted and stopped seven trucks carrying seven containers containing sensitive election material in the Southern Highlands after it was found that the containers had been allegedly tampered with.
“Manager Alwyn Jimmy called police in SHP to stop the trucks,” Southern Highlands commander Chief Inspector Daniel Yangen said.
“Seven trucks were stopped and taken to Mendi police station where the seven drivers were interviewed.
“The EC officer from POM was found in Mt Hagen and was taken to the Mt Hagen police station where I arrived at 11pm on Saturday night and took him back to Mendi at 10am on Sunday.”
Papua New Guinea goes to the polls next month between July 2 and July 22.
Upon initial interviews it was found that the man allegedly admitted to tampering with the containers by removing serial numbers and EC stickers on the containers, Chief Inspector Yangen said.
“The officer is expected to be arrested and charged.”
Stopped the trucks
Jimmy said in an interview: “The trucks were sent to Hela, Southern Highlands and Enga province.”
The container containing materials for Southern Highlands was sent to Hela, I asked the security personnel who went after the trucks, stopped the trucks and told the trucks to return to Mendi, he added.
He said that the containers were removed and were now in custody of the police.
In Wabag, another container is now being kept by police after it was found that the container was supposed to go to Mendi.
Enga Police commander Acting Superintendent George Kakas said: “When we were informed of the incident in Southern Highlands, I ordered that the containers not be opened.
“We will await the arrival of the SHP Election team to come to Wabag and check the containers.”
Investigations by the Post-Courier have pointed out that no election materials have been shipped. All materials have been flown into the provinces in one day.
Sensitive election materials
All sensitive election materials are not supposed to go on transport that is more than a day:
- Ballot papers and indelible ink are not supposed to be shipped as they are sensitive materials;
- Ballot papers are supposed to be airlifted to all destinations and provided security; and
- Police are supposed to accompany sensitive materials like ballot papers and ink anywhere.
Pictures obtained by the Post-Courier show that containers have been kept by security forces at Mendi and Wabag police station.
The Post-Courier understands that the officer who allegedly tempered with the containers has been questioned by police and allegedly admitted to the diversion of the trucks.
Police continue their investigations.
Republished with permission.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.