PNG

Alan Bradley abradley1 at bigpond.com
Sat Jun 23 06:17:43 MDT 2001


>From the Post-Courier (Murdoch daily in Port Moresby):
NB.  There are several more articles on the topic on their webpage.

http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20010622/frhome.htm

Weekend Edition Fri-Sun 22nd-24thJune, 2001

Stop sale!

PORT Moresby ground to a halt yesterday as thousands of chanting students
defied police bans and marched on several key areas to protest against moves
to privatise the PNG Banking Corporation and enforce compulsory land
registration.
The bank privatisation and land mobilisation are key reforms sought by the
World Bank and IMF.
Yesterday's protest brought to a head days of nationwide disruptions to
businesses as bank staff went on strike over pay entitlements while students
demanded that IMF and World Bank officials quit PNG.
Thousands of University of PNG students were joined yesterday by others as
public transport ground to halt. Some buses were forced to carry protesters
to various assembly points.
The action targeted the capital's central business district. Other noisier
protests were staged around the Australian High Commission, US Embassy, the
National Parliament and the Prime Minister's offices.
One witness said police fired warning shots at Waigani as thousands of early
morning commuters were stopped from travelling to work on public buses. No
deaths or serious injuries were reported.
The protests were the biggest and most widespread in Port Moresby since a
revolt by the army in March over now-abandoned plans to reduce their
numbers.
Local reporters covering yesterday's protests said some of the protesters
looted small stall holders in the Waigani area.
A radio talkback show was flooded with callers supporting the students with
one claiming: "Today is just the beginning. There is more to come."
Another caller said the World Bank and IMF were using PNG as "a guinea pig
to pay for their causes''.
Others called for a halt to privatisation plans until after next year's
national elections.
The Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta refused to bow last night to student
demands that he meet their leaders to accept a petition.
Hundreds chanted outside his offices as heavily-armed police threw up
protective cordons.
Meanwhile, the privatisation plans suffered another setback late yesterday
when the National Court ruled that the government's Privatisation Commission
was liable for outstanding liabilities of the PNGBC, including compensation
to sacked senior officials.

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