Opposition Leader Basil challenges UPNG, supports student ballot


Opposition Leader Sam Basil speaking out in support of the University of Papua New Guinea students on EMTV.

By Theckla Gunga in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea’s Opposition has challenged why a protest referendum requested by University of PNG students has not been carried out by the Electoral Commission.

Students across the country have been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill until allegations of corruption against his administration have been fully investigated.

Students at UPNG made a petition calling for O’Neill to stand aside but did not hand this to a government delegation two weeks ago, saying they wanted to present it to the prime minister personally.

Opposition Leader Sam Basil said on EMTV that while the Metropolitan Police Superintendent for Morobe, Anthony Wagambie Jnr, had successfully overseen an “awareness” protest by the students at the University of Technology on Wednesday, the same opportunity should be given for UPNG students.

“I commend the Lae Metropolitan Superintendent, Anthony Wagambie Jnr, and Unitech students for conducting a successful campaign in Lae,” Basil said.

Basil added, however, that for UPNG a referendum could not be conducted because of the absence of the Chief Electoral Commissioner.

Goilala MP William Samb also made comments stating that the while Unitech’s senate had allowed their students to conduct a referendum, the UPNG senate should do the same.

“I challenge the UPNG senate to write a letter to the Electoral Commission to conduct a referendum,” Samb said.

The protest is to petition O’Neill, to step down following a series of allegations labelled against him.

Today marked more than four weeks of unrest and class boycotts at both UPNG’s Waigani and Taurama (medical school) campuses.

Theckla Gunga is an EMTV journalist in Port Moresby.

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