PNG doctors and church leaders call for PM to resign
The doctors' union in PNG and church leaders in Morobe province are echoing student calls for the Prime Minister to step aside.
The chorus of student voices calling for the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister to step down has been joined by the doctors' union and church leaders in Morobe.
The province is home to the University of Technology where a student was killed and buildings burned following the two-month class boycott.
Benjamin Robinson-Drawbridge reports.
The death of the student Graham Romanong, is alleged to have been caused by in fighting among the students. Their protest at PNG's three main universities is now beset by rumours of division over the acceptance of bribes, along tribal lines and from those wishing to return to class. To prevent further bloodshed, the Fraternity of Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches in Morobe is now echoing the students' call for the Prime Minister to step aside and face fraud allegations. The fraternity's Deputy Chairman is Pastor Newman Watati.
PASTOR NEWMAN WATATI: Simple common sense should prevail that if properties are damaged or a life has been lost, it would be the proper and honourable thing as the leader of Papua New Guinea, to win the hearts of the people of PNG and the students, is for him to step aside and let the independent inquiry commission investigate what has happened.
Newman Watati says the Commission of Inquiry that will examine the violence at PNG's three main universities will only investigate the symptoms and not the root cause of the unrest. The Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says the intervention of the opposition fueled the violence, but the opposition leader Don Polye says it's Mr O'Neill who is responsible.
DON POLYE: The cause of the death of the student and the destruction of property, and suffering caused on other students by police is the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill himself not stepping down as Prime Minister to allow the rule of law to take its course.
Dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister's management of the economy added inspiration to the student boycott, and has now provoked the National Doctors Association to also call for Mr O'Neill's resignation. The association's secretary, Sam Yokopua, says drastic cuts to PNG's health budget have provoked the nation's doctors to sign a three point petition.
SAM YOKOPUA: One is for the PM to step aside. Number two, is to restore funding to the Health Department that they've slashed indiscriminately, 40 percent budget cut. Thirdly, they've interfered with the activities of the medical school. The only medical school in the country that produces doctors dentists and pharmacists.
Meanwhile, the vice-chancellor of Unitech, Albert Schram is reported to be under police protection after his car was attacked by students. Dr Schram could not be reached for comment, but has attributed the attack to anger over his decision not to identify the provincial origin of students suspected of killing Mr Romanong. The police have detained three suspects.
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