PNG PM thanks students for petition, signals response

10:24 am on 20 May 2016

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says he has received a petition from students at the University of PNG calling for him to stand down.

Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: PNG Blogs

The student body is threatening a mass withdrawal from their courses if Mr O'Neill does not stand aside today to face questioning over a major fraud case.

In a statement, Mr O'Neill thanked the students for the mature manner in which the petition from the UPNG Student Representative Council was presented to a government delegation which went to the campus yesterday.

Students had been boycotting classes as part of their peaceful protest for two weeks when police were deployed in heavy numbers to the campuses on Tuesday.

But students have objected to the police presence, amid claims that the government is trying to intimidate students into backing down.

While the students are standing firm, the prime minister said there were several assertions in the petition for which a considered response would be prepared.

Mr O'Neill said considering some of the matters which students were protesting about were before the courts, comment would be carefully considered so as to not undermine court proceedings.

On their grievance over his handling of the national economy, Mr O'Neill said comprehensive analysis would be provided to students in response to their claims.

"Papua New Guinea is a country in which democratic process is universally cherished and respected by our people," he said.

"Every citizen has the right to speak their mind so long as this is done in a way that does not undermine the rights and safety of others."

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