In an attempt to reduce violence and rioting in the upcoming general elections, Papua New Guinea is planning a three month ban on the sale of alcohol in the country.
PNG is all set for its national polls from May 12 to July 29 and the ban would be in place during this period.
The nation has more than 45 political parties and clashes between supporters of different parties have caused disruption to the electoral process and damage to infrastructure.
PNG Police Minister William Onglo has written a letter to governors of respective provinces of his plans for a three-month liquor ban.
“The impact of alcohol-related offences can trigger something bigger around the country,” he is reported as saying in the Courier Post.
“With the election it can have an impact on the running of the election and it can affect communities.
“Cheap alcohol brands are alcohols that are very dangerous because it can be easily bought, it can be used as a weapon and it is available to everyone.
“During the ban, shops will not be allowed to sell alcohol commencing next Thursday, 12 May, and all black-markets will be monitored as well to stop all sales of alcohol.
“All alcohol picked up during the ban will be destroyed and the provincial administration must take note of the shops to ensure the shops remain closed indefinitely after the election period.”
While liquor sale from shops will be prohibited, the minister said restaurants will be allowed to sell alcohol, but only if bought with food.
Police Commissioner David Manning is all for the plan. He said alcohol consumption tends to make a person think they are immune to authority.
“With crowds of people in town, polling booths and counting centres, anyone who causes issues while drunk can start a fight that can lead to confrontations,” Manning told the Courier Post.
“A fight between supporters can lead to destruction of buildings, properties, and deaths.”
Provinces such as the Eastern Highlands, Western, East Sepik and West Sepik announced their intention to ensure there is a liquor ban in their respective provinces.
Goroka MP and chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Alcohol-Related Violence, Aiye Tambua, said the liquor ban during election was good.
“There will be total 100 per cent alcohol ban across the country, not just in a particular province or area, it brings stability to the country it is very important that we recommend this, and I totally agree with police hierarchy to have the issue raised,” Tambua said.
“The ban is not for a long time, it is during the election period for at least eight weeks and people must listen and follow directives.”
Alcohol is also the most common form of gifts used for vote buying in PNG.
Election violence in PNG
After the conclusion of the 2017 elections, the Australian National University did a report on electoral violence in PNG. In its final report it found that electoral violence was more widespread than previously noted.
The ANU report is a detailed analysis of the election based on evidence and data gathered by 258 observers across 35 teams.
According to the report, there were widespread serious irregularities, including voter intimidation, personation, underage voting, block voting and proxy voting.
It was noted that electoral violence was also more widespread than previously noted, featuring in all but three of the 69 electorates.
The team also documented 204 deaths due to election-related violence.
The report identified eight cases of large-scale destruction of property and the hijacking and destruction of numerous ballot boxes.