Former PNG PM censures police

6:15 pm on 1 June 2016

Former PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has censured the police for arresting protesting students at the behest of politicians.

Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare

Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Sir Michael, who is also the Governor of East Sepik province, told the newspaper PNG Today, "it is despicable that leaders are abusing their office by instructing the police to carry out their dirty deeds."

Eighteen people were reported to have been arrested on Monday in the the capital of East Sepik, Wewak, for unlawful assembly.

PNG students have been staging forums around the country as part of their awareness campaign to explain why they're calling for the Prime Minister to step down.

Sir Michael said he wanted the public to know that Sepik students from Unitech and the University of PNG informed him of their intention to stage the forum.

"They requested the participation of the Provincial Police Commander Chief Superintendent Peter Philip at the meeting which took place over the weekend.

"They requested my presence and that of the Deputy Governor Ian Samuel and we both obliged. Unfortunately the PPC did not turn up for the meeting.

"Subsequently, I learnt on Monday 30 May that my staff member, students and two prominent residents had been rounded up and charged by police.

"I drove up to the station and was appalled by the sight of heavily armed policemen and around 20 police cars lining the road leading up to the station.

"As a senior member of parliament, I want to remind members of the Royal PNG Constabulary that your responsibility is towards public safety. You are not there to carry out arrests on innocent students and the public at the whim of politicians.

"I thank all the concerned market vendors, women, young people and the general public who reached into their pockets that afternoon to provide bail money for those who were rounded up and thrown into police custody.

"I hope that proper arrest procedures were followed in the lock up of these individuals as this would be a serious breach of Constitutional duties and responsibilities as members of the RPNGC.

"Our province and its Capital, Wewak, must remain a safe and secure environment for our people. We are not a police state and this display of aggression towards unarmed and peaceful citizens is unwarranted and not welcomed in the East Sepik," said Sir Michael.

Meanwhile, another former Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, has accused the current Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, of using District Support funds to buy votes in Parliament.

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Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

In the newspaper the Post Courier, Sir Mekere said in a statement that the right and duty of Members of Parliament to represent their people needs to be restored and respected.

"It is also not right that District Support funds be used as a weapon to control votes in Parliament, recruit MPs to the ruling party and maintain political dominance.

"The result of all this is that people are fast losing confidence in and respect for the Parliament," Sir Mekere said.