‘We won’t back down,’ warn UPNG students over PM

A police mobile unit on patrol at the University of PNG's Waigani campus this week. Image: NauFM

University of Papua New Guinea students have warned that they will not back down from their campaign to defend the constitution until the prime minister steps down.

This is the stand the university’s Student Representative Council (SRC) has taken after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill failed to respond to their demands in their petition presented on Thursday, NauFM reports.

The students had given a 24-hour ultimatum for him to stand down and face police investigations into corruption allegations.

O’Neill responded with a letter to the students yesterday afternoon saying he would need “technical and legal” advice from government agencies and would reply in more detail at a later date.

However, the SRC is now keeping quiet about its options for the next course of action.

The president, Kenneth Rapa, has instructed students to return to their provincial groups to discuss the next step.

Meanwhile, the UPNG Senate is faced with a tough decision about the institution’s academic year.

‘Tough decision’
“The decision will be tough for the Senate because the members will have to consider the concerns of parents for the future of the children,” said UPNG’s director of public relations and event management, James Robins.

Robins added that it’s even tougher when considering the implications that a possible mass withdrawal would have on the academic year for 2017.

After the Senate meeting, a decision would be made on whether to cancel the academic year or give some time for students to wrap up their political actions before continuing with classes.

Either way, the decision would be passed on to the University Council to rectify it first before it could be made official and that is expected to done by next week, Robins said.

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