Papua New Guinea declares emergency after deadly unrest


In response to a surge in unrest causing at least 16 casualties, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has declared a state of emergency. The upheaval began with a strike by police, military personnel, and civil servants protesting reduced pay.

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape.
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has declared a state of emergency following unrest that erupted on Wednesday, resulting in at least 16 casualties. The turmoil began when hundreds of police, military personnel, and civil servants initiated a strike, gathering at Port Moresby’s Unagi Oval before marching towards the Parliament due to reduced pay.

A group stormed the Parliament building, while the government refuted making any pay cuts on social media, attributing it to a payroll oversight.

As looters and protesters seized the opportunity during the police strike, a night of looting and pillaging ensued. The Chinese embassy reported injuries to its citizens and damage to Chinese-owned businesses.

Papua New Guinea, with an active US military base, recently signed a security agreement with Australia, yet it remains unclear if additional support from these allies has been sought. Prime Minister Marape asserted readiness with over 1,000 military personnel to quell further unrest.

Six MPs resigned due to the turmoil, urging Marape to step down. MPs James Nomane and Kieth Iduhu, from Marape’s Pangu Party, highlighted concerns about the country descending into chaos.

In response to the crisis, a state of emergency was declared in the capital, with soldiers and police patrolling Port Moresby. The city seemed to revert to a semblance of normalcy on Friday, with authorities visible on the streets and queues at petrol stations.

The reported death toll stands at nine in Port Moresby and seven in Lae, with four allegedly shot by a business owner in the capital’s suburb. Port Moresby General Hospital is treating over 50 individuals for injuries, including gunshot and knife wounds. While the situation is seemingly under control, the aftermath of the unrest and its impact on the political landscape remain uncertain.

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