‘Disappointed’ UPNG students to continue class boycott

Students at the University of PNG's forum on the Waigani campus on so-called Black Thursday - the day the petition was handed over to the government. Image: Citizen Journalist

By Carmella Gware in Port Moresby

The University of Papua New Guinea students will continue their boycott of classes over the next week, a member of the student representative council says.

Last week, the students gave Prime Minister Peter O’Neill a 24-hour ultimatum on so-called Black Thursday (May 19), to which he responded.

They called on him to respect the integrity of the prime minister’s office and step aside until all allegations against him are cleared.

In a letter dated May 20, O’Neill replied to the UPNG and University of Technology’s student petitions, saying they contained issues that were technical and legal in nature.

“It is therefore not possible for the government or the office of the Prime Minister to provide any responses in a manner requested,” he said.

“I can however assure you that appropriate response will be provided as soon as the government has received satisfactorily advice from the state agencies.”

‘Vague’ response
A student leader told Loop PNG today that the PM’s “vague” response was a disappointment.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) is discussing the next course of action.

“We have come this far. We will never give up,” another student leader said.

Police presence increased from 3pm until 6pm at the main Waigani campus last Friday.

“They were probably anticipating a violent reaction from the students after the PM’s response,” a student told Loop. “But instead, students quietly broke into their regional groups to discuss the next move to take.”

A senior lecturer at UPNG said: “The students’ behaviour so far should be commended.”

Unitech students are also continuing their boycott of classes.

“They are with us in this fight,” a UPNG SRC member said.

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