Papua New Guinea PM declares state of emergency amidst unrest News
U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Papua New Guinea PM declares state of emergency amidst unrest

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape declared a state of emergency after unrest that began on Wednesday has killed at least 16 people. 

The unrest began when hundreds of police, military personnel, and civil servants went on strike and gathered at Port Moresby’s Unagi Oval before marching on the country’s Parliament after receiving a reduced pay packet. A large group then stormed the Parliament building before being addressed by lawmakers. The government denied that it made any pay cuts to police and civil servants on social media. Marape claimed that the reduced pay packet was due to “an oversight by government payroll people.”

Looters and protesters appeared emboldened by the police’s decision to strike, beginning a night of looting and pillaging. The Chinese embassy in Papua New Guinea noted that several of its citizens were injured and that Chinese-owned businesses were ransacked. 

Papua New Guinea has an active US military base and recently signed a bilateral security agreement with Australia for assistance with its police force and legal system. It is uncertain if Marape has called upon the US or Australia for additional support, but he added that the country had over 1,000 military personnel on standby to ward off further unrest. According to the US embassy to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, the Papuan police force has “returned to work.” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “We haven’t had any requests from the PNG [Papua New Guinea’s] government at this time”. 

Six MPs have resigned from Papua New Guinea’s Government due to the unrest and called upon Marape to resign. Chauve MP James Nomane and Hiri-Koiari MP Kieth Iduhu—both of whom where among the six MPs who resigned and from Prime Minister’s Pangu Party—called for Marape to leave office for “the country slipping into a Banana Republic, and for this crisis.”