The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marapedeclared this Thursday the state of emergency in his country due to the riots in several cities that have caused the death of at least sixteen people.
Marape announced that the measure will initially be maintained for fourteen days and that 1,000 Army personnel are waiting to be called up if there is an escalation of violence, according to what the Australian media published today. ABC.
Nine people have died in the capital, Port Moresbywhile seven others have died in Lae, Papua New Guinea’s second largest city, according to official figures.
The riots began after a peaceful protest called on Wednesday by the Police and other security personnel for the cut of their salaries and that of other officials turned violent when it was used by other citizens to carry out looting and set fires in the capital and in other cities.
Videos posted on social media show warehouses engulfed in flames and crowds engaging in looting, which has spread to other regions and continued into the early hours of Thursday morning, according to the local newspaper. Post-Courier.
Before the riots, About 200 police, army and prison officers called a strike and peacefully entered Parliament on Wednesday to protest the tax increase on civil servants’ salaries.which has caused a cut in them.
Marape and his cabinet then claimed that the salary reduction was not deliberate and was due to a technical failure, and assured that the officials would be reimbursed.
In addition, Marape asked the population this morning in a public event not to “go out into the streets” and stressed that it is imperative that the country regain security, after authorizing the Army the day before to participate to “restore” order.
Papua New Guinea, a resource-rich nation that has a large part of its twelve million inhabitants in extreme poverty, is isolated by connectivity and infrastructure problems, especially in remote areas where security and basic health and education is scarce.
Independent from Australia in 1975, this country – whose government signed a security agreement with Canberra in December that includes financial aid to modernize its police forces – also has a long history of political intrigue, corruption and internal conflicts.
The United States and Australia, its strategic ally in Oceania, have redoubled their courtship of several Pacific island nations following China’s signing of a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April 2022.
(With information from EFE)