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Papua New Guinea Parliament is locked down as police and soldiers seek their pay

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Papua New Guinea parliament building
Chinese
and Papua New Guinea national flags are seen lining a street in
front of the parliament building in central Port Moresby, the
capital city of the poorest nation in the 21-member Asia Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, in Papua New Guinea, November
15, 2018.


REUTERS/David
Gray



  • A group of disgruntled soldiers and police officers have
    attacked Papua New Guinea’s national Parliament, according to

    reports from The Guardian’s Australia edition.
  • Parliament building in Port Moresby was in lockdown Tuesday
    afternoon.
  • According to The Guardian, unpaid police and soldiers were
    “smashing vehicles and entryways,” on Tuesday afternoon (AEDT).

Angry local police and national soldiers have stormed PNG’s
Parliament building, shattering windows and tearing up furniture,
according to reports from
The Guardian’s Australia edition
.

According to a person familiar with the situation in Port
Moresby, the group is made up largely of military police and the
Papua New Guinea correctional services, or CIS. 

The officers are demanding their unpaid bonuses, after working to
keep the peace while the capital Port Moresby hosted the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit — a first for the
impoverished Pacific nation.

The rampage by disgruntled members of PNG’s Joint Security Forces
Taskforces is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to
unpaid officials, according to the Post Courier.

Security forces and line agencies were promised payment first
thing Monday, but that did not eventuate, resulting in today’s
rampage, the Post Courier added.

Police and witnesses told Agence France Presse, that the soldiers
currently outside the Parliament building are on a
rampage after failing to receive their expected bonuses
hardly 48 hours after the international summit concluded
without a joint communique for the first time in its 25 year
history.

“A group of policemen and soldiers are outside the Parliament and
demanding their APEC allowances,” PNG police spokesman Dominic
Kakas told AFP.

Despite the New Guinean Parliament being in session as the
building was attacked, no-one was known to be hurt, Kakas
said.

Kakas told AFP that other police were “dealing with it.”

“We don’t expect any further damage or confrontation,” Mr. Momos
said.

Opposition parliamentarian
Allan Bird told the Guardian Australia
that he and other
opposition MPs were in a locked conference room when they heard
the group.

“We heard them coming in, you could hear them smashing things –
the glass entry ways, a few vehicles on the way in,” Bird said.

A police spokesman told Guardian Australia there was no
further information beyond some “disgruntled” police officers and
soldiers had attacked the building.

However,
Bird told Reuters
that the group was as strong as up to 100
security personnel. He said they forced their way into
Parliament.

“It was the armed forces, police and correctional workers,” Bird
told Reuters by telephone. “They have entered the Parliament and
just smashed everything up.”

“They were yelling: ‘corrupt government, bloody government’ and
so on,” Bird said.

The Post Courier has reported that “opportunists taking advantage
of the tense situation (are) commencing looting and fighting.”

Police sources have said the National Capital District Police are
trying to contain the situation. The Papua New Guinea Defence
Force have also confirmed they are keeping watch on the
situation.

In a press release before the attack on Tuesday afternoon
(AEDT), the PNG Police Association said it was “very
concerned” that the security personnel (Police, Defence and CIS)
allowances for APEC had yet to be paid.

“What a gross irony! It is a slap in the face of all the security
elements, they had worked diligently and tirelessly to provide
effective and efficient security to the twenty one economies,
their prime ministers and presidents, including business
delegates comprising some ten thousand plus dignitaries. They
have performed in par with other international security forces,”
the statement read.

Harry Momos, a spokesman for PNG’s Parliament,
told the New York Times,
that about 300 people forced their
way into the building, but calmed down after members were able to
meet with officials.

Papua New Guinea, the poorest of all 21 APEC nations, invested
millions of dollars over years of preparation into hosting the
summit. They quite literally rolled out the red carpet for
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit and even purchased and
flew in three Bentleys and some 40 Maseratis to drive dignitaries
around Moresby’s disintegrating roads.

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