Unrest in Mendi won’t affect APEC says Minister

PORT MORESBY (THE NATIONAL) – Papua New Guinea Minister for APEC Justin Tkatchenko says leaders from all 21 world economies have confirmed their attendance for the meeting in Port Moresby in November.

He described the actions by a minority who destroyed State properties in Mendi, Southern Highlands, on Thursday as an “absolute disgrace and total disappointment”.

Tkatchenko said their actions would not deter preparation work Government was doing for the leaders’ meeting.

“These people do not represent all of us and what we are trying to achieve for our country,” he said.

“This will not deter us at all.

“Yes, this is a slight setback but we continue moving forward for the benefit of economic growth in our country.

“We keep on assuring our world leaders and international partners that we will have one of the best meetings in November.”

Tkatchenko said the Hilton hotel would open its doors in three months’ time.

The hotel will host leaders from around the world at the APEC forum.

Dismissing reports that the hotel would not be operational on time, Tkatchenko said: “Ready for operations mid-September, without a doubt.

“It would be an Independence gift to PNG, especially the landowners who have invested a lot of their resources.

“An experienced general manager from the Hilton Group would come and operate (the hotel).”

Meanwhile, more than 300 Defence Force soldiers are conducting road checks in Port Moresby in an exercise to boost preparedness for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, says to a joint statement by NCD police and the Defence Force.

NCD metropolitan superintendent Perou N’Dranou said the exercise was approved by NCD police.

“It is a very important training exercise for the First Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (1RPIR) to get themselves ready for the leaders’ summit in November,” he said.

“I appeal to all our good citizens to cooperate.

“We would like to inform the public that it’s a friendly exercise and not a threat, invasion or something the public should be afraid of. Traffic police will be there also to conduct their normal roads checks during the exercise.

“The program has already started and will be completed today.

“The people living in and around NCD should know that it’s not an invasion, it’s an exercise.

“They are a friendly force on the ground so the public should not be in fear over this exercise.”

Commanding officer of 1RPIR Lt Col Boniface Aruma said it was important the public was informed about the exercise.

“I apologise for any inconvenience caused to the public,” he said.

“Everything we do in this exercise will set the conditions of the troops to perform and deliver security successfully. It is one of the milestones that we are working with police traffic to reach to conduct effective vehicle road checks to monitor vehicles moving in and out of specific location for the meeting.

“The designated areas for this exercise are roads at 9-Mile Back Road to Gerehu, Gerehu’s Tete settlement and Morata,” he said.

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