- A group of disgruntled soldiers and police officers have attacked Papua New Guinea’s national Parliament, according to reports from The Guardian’s Australia edition.
- Parliament building in Port Moresby was in lockdown Tuesday afternoon.
- According to The Guardian, unpaid police and soldiers were “smashing vehicles and entryways,” on Tuesday afternoon (AEDT).
Angry local police and national soldiers have stormed PNG’s Parliament building, shattering windows and tearing up furniture, according to reports from The Guardian’s Australia edition.
According to a person familiar with the situation in Port Moresby, the group is made up largely of military police and the Papua New Guinea correctional services, or CIS.
The officers are demanding their unpaid bonuses, after working to keep the peace while the capital Port Moresby hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit – a first for the impoverished Pacific nation.
The rampage by disgruntled members of PNG’s Joint Security Forces Taskforces is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to unpaid officials, according to the Post Courier.
Security forces and line agencies were promised payment first thing Monday, but that did not eventuate, resulting in today’s rampage, the Post Courier added.
Police and witnesses told Agence France Presse, that the soldiers currently outside the Parliament building are on a rampage after failing to receive their expected bonuses hardly 48 hours after the international summit concluded without a joint communique for the first time in its 25 year history.
“A group of policemen and soldiers are outside the Parliament and demanding their APEC allowances,” PNG police spokesman Dominic Kakas told AFP.
Despite the New Guinean Parliament being in session as the building was attacked, no-one was known to be hurt, Kakas said.
Seems to be just the start of things. Police now actually smashing their way through Parliament House to get paid? Wonder if international media picks up on this APEC aftermath pic.twitter.com/MyWzjA5qDL
— Joeri Kalwij (@joeriKalwij) November 20, 2018
Kakas told AFP that other police were “dealing with it.”
“We don’t expect any further damage or confrontation,” Mr. Momos said.
Opposition parliamentarian Allan Bird told the Guardian Australia that he and other opposition MPs were in a locked conference room when they heard the group.
“We heard them coming in, you could hear them smashing things – the glass entry ways, a few vehicles on the way in,” Bird said.
A police spokesman told Guardian Australia there was no further information beyond some “disgruntled” police officers and soldiers had attacked the building.
However, Bird told Reuters that the group was as strong as up to 100 security personnel. He said they forced their way into Parliament.
“It was the armed forces, police and correctional workers,” Bird told Reuters by telephone. “They have entered the Parliament and just smashed everything up.”
“They were yelling: ‘corrupt government, bloody government’ and so on,” Bird said.
The Post Courier has reported that “opportunists taking advantage of the tense situation (are) commencing looting and fighting.”
Police sources have said the National Capital District Police are trying to contain the situation. The Papua New Guinea Defence Force have also confirmed they are keeping watch on the situation.
In a press release before the attack on Tuesday afternoon (AEDT), the PNG Police Association said it was “very concerned” that the security personnel (Police, Defence and CIS) allowances for APEC had yet to be paid.
“What a gross irony! It is a slap in the face of all the security elements, they had worked diligently and tirelessly to provide effective and efficient security to the twenty one economies, their prime ministers and presidents, including business delegates comprising some ten thousand plus dignitaries. They have performed in par with other international security forces,” the statement read.
Around 300 people made their way into the building a spokesman for PNG’s Parliament, Harry Momos, told the New York Times. However, things calmed down after members were able to meet with officials.
Papua New Guinea, the poorest of all 21 APEC nations, invested millions of dollars over years of preparation into hosting the summit. They quite literally rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit and even purchased and flew in three Bentleys and some 40 Maseratis to drive dignitaries around Moresby’s disintegrating roads.