Govt Declares 14-Day State of Emergency in NCD, 4 Public Agency Heads Suspended

12 January, 2023

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has announced the National Executive Council’s decision to declare a state of emergency in the Nation’s Capital, Port Moresby, following damages to a series of shops and businesses and unrest in the city.

The Prime Minister however expressed gratitude for the resilience of the majority of Papua New Guineans who stood against social media incitements, preventing the situation from escalating further.

“We’ve witnessed a ‘bubble almost bursting,’ and I want to thank the greater resolve of all our citizens who want to bring back normalcy,” Prime Minister Marape stated in his address to the nation this evening.

“I just want to thank the greater majority of Papua New Guineans in all parts of our country who were able to put in great restraint against negative spins towards looting and rioting.”

Mr Marape praised the nationwide resolve of the police force and acknowledged issues and disappointment in the National Capital District and Central commanding base.

Prime Minister Marape announced the suspension of Commissioner of Police David Manning for 14 days and appointed Deputy Police Commissioner Mr. Donald Yamasombi as the controller of the state of emergency, while Assistant Commissioner of Police, Samson Kua takes over as the Deputy Police Commissioner.

“Deputy Police Commissioner of Police Mr Donald Yamasombi is appointed controller of the State of Emergency and Acting Police Commissioner, and in the same appointment Commissioner of Police David Manning is suspended for 14 days,” PM Marape stated.

“We used section 204 of our constitution to have Defence come in and assist our police. Over a thousand defense force troops are ready and will step in wherever necessary to contain any situation that may arise going forward,” Prime Minister Marape declared.

He revealed evidence of organized rioting and announced a full administrative and criminal investigation to identify the instigators.

“There were organized people behind the scenes who organized rioting, and we are looking into where that organization and support came from.”

Ensuring accountability, the Prime Minister suspended other Heads of Public Body Agencies, including the Department of Finance Secretary, Department of Treasury Secretary, and Department of Personnel Management Secretary.

A team led by the Chief Secretary to Government, Ivan Pomaleu and the Secretary for the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Eric Kwa, will conduct a holistic review, incorporating criminal investigations and support the Controller administer the SOE.

“We want to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again. We secure democracy, we secure the rule of law, and we secure good administration of respective public service organizations,” Mr Marape emphasized.

Secretary of Finance, Samuel Penias has been replaced by Deputy Secretary Operations, Stephen Nukuitu; Secretary for Treasury, Andrew Oaeke is replaced by Deputy Secretary Vali and Secretary of the Department of Personnel Management is being replaced by Deputy Secretary, Mr Vele Ravugamini.

Marape urged disciplinary forces to uphold their oath and loyalty, emphasizing proper channels for addressing grievances.

He charged the Acting Police Commissioner Yamasombi with restoring order in the police force and announced the soon release of over 500 new police personnel to areas experiencing discipline challenges.

In the aftermath of burnt-down shops and businesses, a policy committee, led by Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso, and Ministers for Higher Education, Education, and Labour, will assess the loss and determine incentives that government will assist for businesses to rebuild.

“In what happened yesterday, over 5000 jobs are lost now as we speak. This cabinet has also been tasked to look into the exact sum of incentives that we can give to the businesses so that they can rebuild again,” the Prime Minister concluded, urging citizens to contribute during this period in bringing the country back to normalcy.