Public weapons display shocks nation

Papua New Guinea was left speechless after seeing media reports and social media posts of heavy weapons and ammunition being displayed publicly in Mendi and Nipa respectively.

Social media itself was bombarded with all sorts of comments against the events that transpired, including the burning of Air Niugini’s subsidiary, Link PNG Services Dash 8 aircraft.

The Government, in response, declared an extension of the State of Emergency, approving K6 million funding and a call out for PNG Defence Force soldiers.

The NEC than made a pre-emptive decision to suspend the Southern Highlands Provincial Government.

This further ignited tensions among Governor William Powi’s supporters, who openly threatened to cause more destruction to Government services.

Soldiers were immediately deployed to the troubled town and Southern Highlands leaders convened a meeting in Port Moresby on Sunday to reach an agreement on how to solve the problem without more violence.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill later clarified that NEC has no powers to suspend any provincial government.

That power lies with the parliament.

Heavy military and police presence in the area has seen the highway between Mendi, Nipa-Kutubu and Tari cleared as of Sunday afternoon.

But the fear remains of the high powered weapons that are in the grass thatched huts and the cold misty vegetation.

This clearly indicates that the Government’s guns amnesty last year did little to encourage people to surrender their weapons.  

Defence Minister Solan Mirisim told this newsroom that talks of weapons surrender or disposal will be part of discussions as leaders continue to discuss solutions to the Southern Highlands unrest.

He says the call out of soldiers into Mendi is firstly to restore normalcy following the chaos.

(Picture supplied)

Charmaine Poriambep