10 Mar 2003

Governor says evictions of settlers in Madang to continue

5:05 pm on 10 March 2003

The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Madang province says he is still planning to evict illegal settlers from the region, despite public criticism.

James Yali says a group has been given 14 days to leave as part of what he says will be a year long eviction exercise.

Mr Yali says this is contrary to media reports which said that up to 10-thousand settlers were to be evicted at the weekend, which he says caused undue fear and panic.

The Madang governor is also disputing reports saying the settlers last week obtained a court stay on their eviction.

Mr Yali says the court order applied only to those who come from the Southern Highlands and that the eviction of other illegal settlers will proceed.

Mr Yali says his government is currently identifying those who are genuine settlers and he says he will ask the national government to provide land for them.

"what we are doing is trying to identify those who are productive members of our community and those who are just squatting.... people who have been self employed and who are also employed by business houses in Madang, and also those who have been living three or four generations in Madang. We would obtain state land and we would of course settle these people in these state lands"

Mr Yali says he is appealing the court stay for the Southern Highlanders.