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Papua New Guinea Declares State Of Emergency As 16 Killed In Riots

The riots began as a demonstration from the public sector over a decrease in wages.

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, on Thursday declared a state of emergency in the country, immediately suspending government and police officials after riots led to the death of 16 people.

Lawlessness in the Pacific Island nation stemmed from a police and public sector demonstration on Wednesday over a wage decrease that officials claimed was the result of an administrative error.

It was reported that the police had said that nine people were murdered in the riots in Port Moresby and seven in Lae, in the north of the nation known for its copper and gold mining.

At a news conference, Prime Minister James Marape announced that he had suspended senior officials in the finance and treasury ministries as well as the chief of police in Papua New Guinea while the government looked into what caused the disturbances.

Marape said to reporters, “There was evidence of organised rioting that took place.” He also added that the review he has begun will would ensure that “we secure democracy, we secure rule of law.”

He claimed that about one thousand military men were ready to ward off any more protests.

On Thursday, the capital experienced a decrease in violence as the administration dispatched more police to uphold law and order.

Though tensions remained high, the US embassy in Port Moresby reported that police had resumed their duties.

The embassy, also saying they had received reports of violence in other areas in the country, said, “The relative calm can change at a moment’s notice.”

The Chinese embassy said that some Chinese nationals suffered minor injuries and that theft and vandalism had occurred at Chinese-owned businesses.

The high commissioner of Australia, according to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, was keeping an eye on the situation. Canberra, which frequently provides security and law enforcement support to Papua New Guinea, has not received any requests for assistance from the country.

For the last year, Papua New Guinean police have faced increasing levels of violent crime. According to Marape, increasing security will contribute in luring international capital to PNG’s copper and gold reserves.

On Wednesday morning, police went on strike after learning that their wages had been cut.

Social media posts by the government refuted reports that law enforcement had to pay an additional tax, and Marape promised to rectify any administrative mistakes that may have led to the salary disparity.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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