Southern Highlands Province leaders told to return

MENDI, 19 JUNE 2018 (POST COURIER) – Political leaders from Papua New Guinea Southern Highlands Province have been urged to return home and unite with their people to apologise to Air Niugini, the judiciary and the country.

Provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Joseph Tondop said it was time to apologise to the country as leaders of the province, as well as join hands with their people in remorse. This would also provide a venue for reconciliation.

Chief Supt Tondop said the public apology was due for the burning of Air Niugini Dash 8 aircraft, the courthouse and the governor’s residence last Thursday. Meanwhile, security operations for the Southern Highlands State of Emergency started yesterday.

Soldiers and police personnel started patrols along road links into Mendi and the National Highway as well as providing security for government assets.

Mendi town was unusually quiet as most shops and the Bank South Pacific remained closed.

Chief Supt Tondop visited the hospital and assured staff that they were safe, urging them to continue to provide services.

“The soldiers are here helping us with security operations and I appealed to Government agencies return to normal operations.”

He said dialogue with the people was important but following last Thursday’s mayhem people were not coming out into the town.

Chief Supt Tondop said yesterday: “We will start a public awareness tomorrow to restore public confidence. Through the operation, we will address issues as we see fit”.

He said Mendi-Nipa chaos was a leadership issue that needed to be discussed between the security forces, leaders and the people in a dialogue.

“We have to meet and talk with the people within the next 14 days. We can’t fix this issue if one of the three parties is not here,” Tondop said.

He said he was happy that the political leaders met and apologised to the country for the Mendi destruction.

It was important that the people are taught the processes of the court system and to respect the law, he said.

There had been a public outcry following disturbances in Mendi late last year for leaders to return and clear issues in the province but none of the political leaders ever did so.

Tondop echoed the sentiments saying the leaders needed to get closer to their people to install stability.

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