11 Apr 2012

PNG PM assures protestors over elections but keeps Judicial Conduct Act

4:41 am on 11 April 2012

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has assured several thousand protestors in Port Moresby that national elections this year will go ahead as originally scheduled.

Mr O'Neill addressed the crowd of an estimated five to ten thousand protestors at the capital's Sir John Guise Stadium.

He and some members of his cabinet received petitions from civil society, student and union groups demanding elections be not deferred by six month as parliament voted last week.

They also voiced concerns over a controversial new law enabling government to suspend judges.

Our correspondent, Titi Gabi, says many were dissatisified with Mr O'Neill's response, particularly on calls for his government to repeal the Judicial Conduct Act.

"The election is on course. That undertaking was made by the Attorney General Allan Marat. As for the Judicial bill, Peter O'Neill has said that the Chief Justice would have to resign first and then they (the government) can withdraw the bill. So there's still a lot of dissatisfied protestors out there, unhappy with the outcome"

Titi Gabi says the Trade Union Congress remains unhappy with the government's response and will meet to decide on its next protest action.