The National Security Council was convened by the Prime Minister on 06 May 2021 to address National Security Matters including COVID-19 Operational matters, prevalence of law and order problems in the country, and the 2022 National General Elections preparations.
Chairman of the National Security Council, Prime Minister James Marape said the NSC took note of the COVID-19 impact, associated challenges, and government responses to that challenge at different levels, and determined that the COVID-19 response must continue to be handled as a whole of government approach. It was also necessary that government agencies and entities take leadership in promoting the “niupela pasin”.
The NSC also considered the current increase in law and order issues in the country as the most pressing concern for businesses and citizens and must be at the forefront of government focus before the national general elections.
He said the criminal activities and law and order situation is a direct result of lack of institutional capacity and capability, absence of political leadership at all levels of government and ineffective governance. He acknowledged the murder case at Koki in the National Capital District and subsequent ethnic tribal revenge; the drunken brawl and drug consumption amongst youths, leading to violence in East New Britain province, armed criminal gang activities in Alotau, and tribal killings in Porgera, Enga, Hela and Eastern Highlands respectively, as key security challenges affecting lives, livelihoods and business activities.
“Corporate and business houses are concerned that law and order problems are affecting business. The law enforcement agencies are absolutely committed to address public safety issues and security of government and private sector assets” Prime Minister Marape said.
He further stressed that the Security Council has directed the disciplinary security forces and intelligence community to take a unified approach and address the prevalence and increase in criminal activities in the country.
“Government approaches to address the increase in law and order issues are through existing community policing mechanisms, community mediation, deployment of mobile squads, and PNG Defense Force Call-Out deployment.
“While the response to mitigate the impact and effect of COVID-19 was through policy interventions of the National Pandemic Act, ‘Niupla Pasin’ Guidelines to strengthen protective measures at the workplace, educational institutions and communities and development of Economic Stimulus package to resuscitate the economy.”
Prime Minister Marape said despite all these responses, all security protocols currently in place do not take into account the risks and threats that will come with the 2022 National General Elections.
“Papua New Guinea is now behind its pre-2022 National General Election security assessment to assist plan and prepare for the actual election process,” he said.
“The National Government is fully aware of the enormous task ahead but the existence of COVID-19 is a concern that will continue to hinder progress.
“However, the National Government considers this as a priority area as per the constitution and demands that the key committee on the 2022 National General Election security to activate immediately.
“Therefore, the NSC has agreed to seek approval from Cabinet on the National Security Advisory Committee’s (NSAC) Resolution pertinent to COVID-19 response efforts and the NSAC Resolution about criminal activities and general law and order situation in the country.”
The Prime Minister said the NSC has also agreed to seek approval from Cabinet to direct the NSAC to coordinate, plan and lead the security operations for the 2022 National General Elections.
He added that the NSC is also open for any other directions from Cabinet.