AS armed police in troop carriers moved on to the campus of the University of Papua New Guinea before dawn this morning, prime minister Peter O’Neill was providing the clearest sign that as long as he is around no dissent will be brooked.
Yesterday, the PNG electoral commission had invalidated student voting which seemed to legitimate boycotts on classes at a number of universities.
The boycotts began three weeks ago at UPNG in an effort to compel O’Neill to stand down in the face of corruption allegations against him.
This commission’s action is interpreted as an exercise of political influence that casts a shadow over the prospects of a free and fair general election which is due next year.
Meanwhile,the university’s vice chancellor, Albert Mellam, has issued a notice saying that the Waigani and Taurama (medical) campuses have been sealed to “secure the safety of staff and students due to increased activities by some students that border on criminality”.
The vice-chancellor, whose command of English suffered in his haste to issue the instruction, added that “police is called upon to exercise ots constitutional duty to protect lievs and properties.”
Mellam said “the arrangement will restore normalcy and students will return to classes immediately”.
Mellam did not make it clear exactly how police will ensure that students return to classes.
Activist Noel Anjo who observed the invasion of the UPNG campus said it is time for students’ parents to protest.
“We are not criminals,” a student told Loop PNG. “We didn’t break any laws. Our only intention was not to attend class.”