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Saturday 21 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A police presence will be maintained at the University of Papua New Guinea’s main campus in Port Moresby to discourage more protests and assemblies by striking students and also to protect state property, the Post -Courier newspaper reports.

The National Court confirmed the police will continue their presence in defiance of attempts to obtain court orders to remove them sought by the university students’ representatives.

Representative Council president Kenneth Rapa had sought to restrain the university authorities from interfering with their rights to protest and to restrain Police Commissioner Gari Baki from giving directions for his officers to enter the campus to suppress students in raising issues of national importance.

Justice David Cannings refused the orders because the application’s originating process was vague.

He also said that Rapa had failed to provide sufficient evidence before the court demonstrating which rights had been breached, how the rights were being breached and who was breaching these rights.

After his decision, Justice Cannings reminded the police and students about their constitutional duties to preserve peace and order.

Rapa’s lawyer Robbie Yansion told the court that the students’ rights for assembly and protest were being breached under sections 46, 47 and 52 of the Constitution.

“These are free freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of movement respectively,” he said.

Yansion said the presence of 50 to 60 police vehicles and fully armed police officers on campus ready for combat was intimidation enough to prevent students exercising these constitutional rights that they are entitled to.

Justice Cannings told Rapa that he could file a new application when he has compiled more evidence. - Post-Courier

Fears unrest may lead to looting

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern at the vulnerability of the city now that police are focused on protesting University of Papua New Guinea students.

The concerns came hours after opportunists made an attempt to loot shops in China Town, East Boroko, and a suburban supermarket was stormed and ransacked by 100 unidentified men on Thursday.

Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, David Conn, told the Post-Courier that security was a major concern with such a large police presence concentrated at the university.

“A major concern is with such a large police presence at UPNG who is keeping law and order in the rest of the city,” he said.

There were public buses on the road in the national capital but only some had passengers with very few people on the street, unusual for a Thursday in the NCD, the paper reported.

Civil society organisations, calling themselves the Coalition of Civil Society Groups, had mass-distributed an email calling for a nationwide shutdown in the office, school and public transport.

However, authorities including the Department of Personal Management – which oversees the country’s public service – sent out a staff circular warning civil servants against joining the anti-government protests led by the university students.

Conn said some of the chamber’s members experienced minor issues with staff transportation to work but most of them have adopted a pragmatic approach to the protest.

“Our advice was that we felt it unlikely the planned stoppage would get much support and this appears to be the case.

“Nevertheless such issues cause uncertainty within the business community and their staff and that is simply never good for business,” he added.

Fear and uncertainty over security issues gripped many city residents due to the threat of a nationwide strike, however, a strong police presence ensured normalcy prevailed, the Post-Courier reported

Many commuting to work resorted to casual attire out of fear of being attacked for disobeying the call to stop work.

A Bank South Pacific Limited employee approached by Post-Courier said she had her uniform tucked in her handbag and was going to change into it when in the safety of her office.

- Post - Courier