State of emergency declared in Port Moresby
25 May 2012
BY KEITH JACKSON
THE O’NEILL GOVERNMENT has declared a state of emergency in the National Capital District and in the Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces as it moves to tighten its grip on threats to its economic and political well-being.
It has also given itself the ability to declare a state of emergency anywhere else in the country "that poses a threat to national security".
After three failed attempts this week, Parliament finally secured a quorum of members and was able to convene.
And it moved straight into an agenda of controversial decision-making.
Parliament passed legislation to declare a state of emergency for the three regions in which the government believes it faces - or, in the case of NCD, may face - serious problems.
It also approved a motion nullifying Monday's Supreme Court decision that declared the O’Neill government illegitimate.
Hela and the Southern Highlands have significant resource developments underway, and there has been associated civil unrest.
But more sinisterly, the emergency was extended to Port Moresby where strenuous civil disobedience would be assessed to be more likely after effective protests against government policy in past months.
Papua New Guinea now moves into uncharted waters as the government adopts a more authoritarian approach to its role.
The major outstanding issue it could face now is how the disciplined forces of the PNG Defence Force and Police will react.
There was already antagonism to the government shown by some police who barricaded the Haus Tamberan for a period this morning.
It has become clear that the O’Neill-Namah combination does not intend to easily give up its control of PNG.
It could be that next month’s general elections may now be in jeopardy.
And Australia has a huge crisis - it may end akin to Fiji - occurring right on its doorstep.
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