Prime Minister James Marape late this afternoon announced that the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Honorable Justin Tkatchenko has stepped aside from his Ministerial portfolio with immediate effect.
This followed public uproar after a tiktok video from his daughter Savannah Tkatchenko was circulated widely on social media. The Minister’s defense of his daughter drew further harsh criticism from the public over the poor choice of words used to show his frustrations.
The Prime Minister announced that he will oversee the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the interim, and that includes making sure that the preparation towards hosting the Prime Minister of India, the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Fiji, and all other Pacific Island leaders go ahead as planned.
“I want to commend the Minister for putting the interest of the country ahead of his own. I also want to apologise to his family, and especially his daughter Savannah for the traumatic experience over the last couple of days. No woman deserves to be treated the way Savannah was treated over the last few days”.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the Minister did what any father would do, but his responsibility as an elected leader and a state minister required that his conduct and words must remain exemplary and above board at all times.
“In that regard I announce to the nation that I will take charge of the foreign affairs ministry and ensure that all the preparations for the upcoming historical visits remain on track in the next few days until our first visitor touches down on Thursday, 18 May 2023.”
The Prime Minister also thanked Minister Tkachenko for the preparation work done thus far and said he will ensure that all work is progressed with a multiagency effort so that we make our country proud when our visitors come on shore beginning next week.