PNG Police Vow To Prevent Any Unsanctioned Protests

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Police Superintendant won’t approve any more marches

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 26, 2012) – Papua New Guinea (PNG) Police will stop any illegal gatherings or marches by groups protesting parliament’s push to defer the general election and recently-enacted legislations.

National Capital District (NCD) metropolitan commander Supt. Peter Guinness said in a statement last night he had not been, and would not be, approving any more protest marches in Port Moresby.

"Let me warn union leaders, non-governmental organizations and other interest groups that we will come down hard on people who convene any illegal gatherings in the city or try to stage a protest march," Guiness said.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will today meet the protesting groups including the Trade Union Congress (PNGTUC), civil society and NGOs to discuss their grievances.

The groups gave O’Neill a petition on April 10 listing demands they wanted the government to address. These included the repealing of the Judicial Conduct Act and holding of the election as scheduled in June.

PNGTUC president Michael Malabag and general secretary John Paska yesterday confirmed that they would meet O’Neill to discuss the issues they had raised. They assured Port Moresby residents that there would not be any protest or march today.

Malabag urged businesses and schools to operate as normal.

The groups were planning to deliver another petition to O’Neill at Parliament House today.

Guiness and NCD-Central police commander Francis Tokura had not met with any representatives of the protesting group.

PNG Power and Eda Ranu had assured NCD residents that water and power supplies would not be disrupted despite earlier threats by the protesting groups.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Tokura reports that operations in the NCD have been "normal" in spite of a boycott by officers over the recent attack on NCD police by another group of officers. A ten-person team has been given two weeks from April 23rd to examine the assault and complete an official investigation.]

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