Protesters in PNG’s Highlands torch plane, shut Mendi airport

The destroyed Air Nuigini Dash 8 at Papua New Guinea's Mendi Airport. Image: Melvin Levongo/RNZ Pacific

By RNZ Pacific

Protesters in the Papua New Guinea Southern Highlands town of Mendi have torched a plane and closed the airport.

Earlier, the local police station commander Gideon Kauke had said police were guarding the aircraft to ensure there was no further damage after its tyres had been flattened.

But he said his team of about 10 police could not contain a mob of “uncountable numbers”, particularly after missiles were thrown, forcing them to retreat.

“We were guarding the plane but compared to them we were outnumbered and they came in all directions, all corners. Missiles were thrown, bush knives were thrown,” Kauke said.

Kauke said some of the protesters, who continued to behave “menacingly” in Mendi as their numbers build up, were carrying guns.

He said the protest was in response to a court ruling in Waigani confirming the election of the Southern Highlands Governor William Powi.

Governor Powi’s success in last year’s PNG general election had been challenged by Joseph Kobol and Bernard Peter Kaku.

Kauke said the protestors alleged there was foul play in the court decision.

This RNZ Pacific news item is published under a content sharing agreement with the Pacific Media Centre.

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  1. Very sad to see our flag carrier burnt to ashes. Our people are getting out of hand therefore our government must look into this matter seriously. Everything has its root cause this incident is a election related problems. The election in the 70s, 80s, and 90s were OK accept violence erupted from 2000 and upwards. Our leaders must look seriously into this matter. My opinion is out government must amend our constitution and impose tougher penalties on such crime. Most of out laws are outdated and needs to be amended.
    The other main reason why we have a lot of election related problem is the increase of DSIP fundings to MPs. Some contest election to serve the people, others contest with interest to become millionaire over night. They spend unnecessary to get into the system. Also those in the system do not want to accept the defeat and do anything to survive. That’s why we have many election petition and trouble fights and destruction in our country. The only solution is give the money to the province to run the affairs of provinces and cut down on MPs having direct access to DSIP funds. Cut it down to 3 million Kina every year to each MP instead of 15 million Kina. Let only people who are born to serve contest the elections to work with the provincial authority to oversee that distribution are done fair and just.

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