PNG MP says students should stop protests

8:46 pm on 29 June 2016

A Member of Parliament in Papua New Guinea says students should end their protest before they lose public support.

The students at universities in Lae, Goroka and Port Moresby have been boycotting classes since the start of May while demanding the Prime Minister steps down.

The remains of a building after it was set alight during violent clashes at the University of Technology in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

The remains of a building after it was set alight during violent clashes at the University of Technology in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Supplied / Albert Schram

Curfews have been imposed at the University of PNG and Unitech where a student was killed and buildings burned on Saturday.

The Member of Parliament for Goroka, Bire Kimisopa, a former police minister, said about 80 students from his province who want to return to class, had been forced off their Port Moresby campus by leaders of the boycott.

"The protests or its intention has been a noble one but if it's going to be rolled on simply because some members of the SRC (Student Representative Council) felt that it's appropriate that they continue to strike then public goodwill and empathy for the university will dissipate, they will lose support form the public and it's important that the SRC reconvene and allow students to get back into the campus now."

Bire Kimisopa said Goroka students in Port Moresby were being cared for by the community as they couldn't afford to fly home.

Meanwhile, his comments about the risk of students losing public support were echoed by a Church leader.

The General secretary of Papua New Guinea's Conference of Catholic Bishops, Father Victor Roche, said the violence had caused the public to lose heart.

"But now I don't think the students have the support of the public, at least the majority of the public," he said.

"We from the Catholic Bishops Conference, we call on the student body, they have to re-think the direction they have to take. Especially now it is their academic year at stake."

Father Victor Roche said students must resolve their internal differences before they can reconcile with the administration of their universitites.

Bire Kimisopa

Bire Kimisopa Photo: EMTV

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