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PNG Elections: Police intercept Soldiers with unauthorized election materials

Kokopo Police in East New Britain have intercepted three PNG Soldiers who were smuggling unauthorized election materials. They are are being held in police custody in Kokopo, East New Britain Province, allegedly hired by a candidate in New Ireland Province.

The three non-commissioned soldiers await the arrival of their superiors from Port Moresby to further interrogate them for their involvement with a candidate from Namatanai.

A warrant officer and two corporals were with 19 men and a woman who were on Air Niugini’s PX 204 from Port Moresby to Kavieng via Kokopo about 9.30am on Sunday.

East New Britain police response unit acted on intelligence from Port Moresby about suspicious passengers and cargoes aboard the flight.

The response unit waited for the flight at Tokua and took in the men and the woman, who all claimed to be ex-military personnel.

No military weapons were found on them after preliminary checks.

A thorough check was carried out at Kokopo police station, and posters belonging to the Namatanai candidate, Walter Schnaubelt, were found in their possession, as well as the Namatanai common rolls and some tally sheets.

The provincial electoral manager, Joap Voivoi, was called to identify and verify if the items in their possession were illegally being transported around this time.

Mr Voivoi said the rolls are not supposed to be taken around before the National Election and should not be in the possession of non-Electoral Commission officers.

He has referred the matter back to the Electoral Commission in Port Moresby to liaise with police.

The provincial police commander has been instructed by the Defence Force commander in Port Moresby not to release the three current serving members until senior officers arrive in Kokopo.

The 19 men were confirmed to be ex-servicemen on their way to Namatanai to be scrutineers, while the woman has been identified as a security personnel with the named candidate’s security firm SOS.

Police are still continuing their investigations. Post Courier/ PNG Today
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