The Guardian 11 May, 2005

PNG police call for Australians to go

More than 300 Papua New Guinea police last week demanded that Australian officers based in their country be sent home. They are referring to the 150 Australian police officers who were officially sent there to restore law and order and strengthen the running of government under an $800 million package.

Under the terms of the package, which were initially strongly resisted by the PNG government, Australia has sent police and other personnel to intervene in the running of government and maintenance of law an order. The Australian government threatened to cut aid if PNG did not agree to its presence.

On Wednesday last week, local police met in the capital, Port Moresby, and demanded responses within 48 hours to a series of complaints.

Among other things they said crime in the capital had worsened since the deployment began late last year.

Some local officers also cited strained working relations with their Australian counterparts.

The PNG police said there had not been enough effort to build the local policing capacity.

The police are also angry over the Australian police erecting their own satellite communications dish.

A constitutional challenge to the legality of the Australian operation has been mounted in the Supreme Court.

If the court upholds the appeal Australia is expected to recall its police officers until the issue can be resolved.

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