PNG’s Unitech votes for class boycott, students demand PM steps down


Unitech’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert Schram pictured in EMTV video of student unrest updates.

By Scott Waide in Lae

An overwhelming majority of students at Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology in Lae has voted to boycott classes from tomorrow amid demands that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill step aside and for the police commissioner to reopen the Fraud Squad office, reports EMTV.

A referendum was conducted on Friday.

Electoral Commission officers counted the votes and later announced that 2059 students had voted “yes” while 296 voted against the boycott.

Forums have been ongoing but the Students Representative Council’s (SRC) constitution does not allow the students to progress to a boycott without a referendum.

While the students’ voice has been loud, the SRC has raised concerns over the silence of unions, workers and non-government organisations who have in previous years held governments to account.

Earlier, in a separate interview, Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert Schram said the university administration had not been closed and after two days of forum, normal operations would resume.

He said normal university functions would continue if there was a yes vote for the boycott.

UPNG students ordered back
At the national University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, reports Adelaide Kari, the Senate, the supreme body comprising the vice-chancellor and heads of departments for all schools at UPNG, held a special meeting on Friday.

Among the 5 resolutions of the meeting was a call for normal classes to resume tomorrow.

However, the students have vowed to continue the boycott.

Earlier on Friday, the National Academic Staff Association ccomprising all academic staff from UPNG issued a statement supported the boycott.

NASA president Emmanuel Gorea said his colleagues supported the stand the students were taking and called on the Prime Minister and the government of PNG to receive the student’s petition.

However, he said that they would cater for students through remedial classes to cover the loss of learning.

Scott Waide and Adelaide Kari are EMTV reporters.

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