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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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PNG Speaker Denies Plans To Buy Guns For Security
Acting Parliamentary Clerk allegedly sought approval for purchase

By Wanpis Ako

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 28, 2013) – Speaker Theo Zurenuoc has denied a report that the government has bought K556,000 worth of guns for parliamentary security.

The report cited a letter by acting clerk Simon Ila to police officials advising the purchase despite the objections from Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga.

Ila denied the purchase, saying that he had written to the police proposing to seek clearance to buy the firearms.

Zurenuoc’s office denied knowledge of the purchase last week and cancelled a press conference on Friday without an official explanation.

He said the reported guns, including five M4 Carbine Bushmaster assault rifles and a Heckler and Koch MP7 A1 sub-machine gun, had not been purchased.

Zurenuoc said slackness in monitoring movement of visitors by security officers at parliament’s entrance posed a high security risk for MPs and staff.

"I have noticed there has been a lack of command and control in the security.

"No thorough checks have been carried out by the officers at the back entrance reserved for the MPs and staff," he told The National.

Zurenuoc said he had received reports that a number of laptop computers belonging to MPs were stolen from their office.

He denied knowledge of the purchase of high-powered firearms and ammunition.

"That K556,000 is a huge amount of money that we need for facelift to parliament’s facilities," he said.

The Finschhafen MP said it was not even his plan to beef-up security with guns but to equip officers with skills.

Most security officers at the Haus Tambaran needed better qualifications and he had plans to improve the chamber, administration and security services.

"We want to install electronic security card system and to engage a private security firm to beef up security.

"We also have plans to renovate the facilities so that our parliament can become a model and standard bearer in the South Pacific."

Danny Puli, Zurenuoc’s first secretary, said there was no cheque raised for the purchase of guns and ammunition for security.

"It is a serious security issue so we have to establish facts. We can’t take reactionary approach," he said.

Puli said that parliament security had firearms in 2002 but they had gone missing in 2007.

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