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The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) has deferred its routine patrols along the PNG/Indonesian border in West Sepik province, after locals in Vanimo mistook a normal security operation for a military response to the current political situation.

The PNGDF Chief of Staff (COS), Navy Captain Philip Polewara, said the movement of personnel and the equipment including helicopters, concerned the town folks because it was at the same time the Opposition team was in Vanimo town for the camp, which was over the weekend.

“Because of that the PNGDF has withdrawn the helicopter and our routine border operations have been deferred until further notice,” said the COS.

The COS also said the Defence Council has not directed or ordered intervention or actions by the PNGDF in relation to the current political situation in any way.

Meanwhile, the PNGDF will remain a politically neutral organisation, said Captain Polewara.

Therefore, to ensure there is no opportunity for coercion, or external intervention into PNGDF routine, business, operations and tasks, all camps and bases will have strictly controlled access from now until Christmas and New Year.

The office of the COS has also issued a directive to all service personnel throughout PNGDF establishments not to get involved with any political groups or be influenced by either the government or the opposition parties during this period.

Any service personnel who disobeys the directives will be disciplined accordingly, said the COS.

November 23, 2020