by Scott Waide – EM TV News, Lae
A seven page petition calling for the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to step aside was this afternoon presented to the Housing Minister, Paul Isikeli, who received the document on behalf of the Prime Minister.
The petition was signed by close to 3,000 students from the University of Technology.
The petition highlights concerns about the national economy, upholding the integrity of the Prime Minister’s office and, in the final paragraphs, calls for the Prime Minister to step aside within 48 hours.
The petition contains a list of various issues. Among them are concerns over the economy, particularly the pressures on foreign reserves and the effect it is having on businesses and potential employers of the 3,000 students who will eventually graduate in the future.
The point that stands out, and continues to form the basis of the protests and the recent boycott referendum, is the call for the Prime Minister to step aside to protect the integrity of the Prime Minister’s office.
Today’s impromptu presentation was made after the Prime Minister requested for the Housing Minister to receive the petition on his behalf. A notable absence was the Morobe Governo, Kelly Naru, who had prepared to receive the petition yesterday but could not attend due to other engagements.
The Housing Minister said very little during the presentation. But promised that the petition would be delivered to the Prime Minster when he returns to Port Moresby.
“The Prime Minister is aware of the situation in our institutions and I believe he will respond appropriately,” Minister Isikel said.
While, one small chapter may have come to a close. Student leaders have stressed to the Minister that the deadline remains fixed at 48 hours for the Prime Minister to step aside.
“The deadline is 48 hours. After this we will take another course of action,” said SRC President, David Kelma.
Just days ago, more than 2,000 students voted for a boycott.
Yesterday, with assistance from the police, an awareness gathering was staged to educate the general public on the points contained in the petition.
While progress has moved smoothly from referendum to petition presentation at Unitech, students at the the University of Papua New Guinea have been struggling over the last 36 hours to get a sympathetic ear from Electoral Commission and the UPNG administration to hold a referendum.