Pacific Media Watch

25 May 2016

PNG: Unitech students to PM: 'We're talking about morality - not legality'

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Unitech students with a banner calling on Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to "respect the law" and stand down to let corruption investigations resume unhindered at an earlier demonstration. Image: Loop PNG

Carmella Gware
LAE, Papua New Guinea (Asia Pacific Report/Loop PNG/Pacific Media Watch): A student leader at Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology in Lae has responded to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s letter refusing to stand down or resign, saying: “We are talking about morality – not legality.”

O’Neill responded to the University of PNG and Unitech’s petitions yesterday evening after seeking “advice from the State Agencies”.

The PM responded to the controversial issues of the UBS loan, budget cuts, Paul Paraka Lawyers, turbine power generators, distribution of District Services Improvement Programme funds and national debt, among others.

Unitech Student Representative Committee (SRC) deputy president Livingstone Fontenu told Loop PNG that O’Neill was the first PM in Papua New Guinea’s history, to have numerous allegations levelled against him.

“The founders of our nation like Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan and Paias Wingti once had accusations laid against them. But as true statesmen, who have respect for the rule of law and respect of public opinion, stepped aside to prove their innocence,” he said.

“So we want neither those explanations nor another day to wait and watch our court system do its honest work, only to be blocked just before justice is served,” said Fontenu.

“What we demand is for him to step down. That office is not anyone’s birthright.

‘Face the court’
“Instead of taking the PM’s office of the 7.8 million people of PNG to court and having accusations laid against it, violating its integrity, validity and power, just step aside, face the court and prove your innocence.”

In his response yesterday, O’Neill said: “I wish to state clearly that I have no intention of either stepping aside or resigning from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“The people that have the legal mandate to remove a prime minister from office are the National Parliament or the people at the general election.

“I was mandated by the people in 2012 and duly elected by Members of Parliament, and I intend to uphold and respect their mandate until 2017 general election.”

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