State-of-Emergency Declared in National Capital District Following Riots and Suspensions of Top Officials

In the aftermath of yesterday’s widespread rioting and looting in Port Moresby, Prime Minister Marape today announced a 14-day State-of-Emergency (SoE) in the National Capital District. The announcement came as a response to the unrest, and four high-ranking officials—Police Commissioner David Manning, Finance Secretary Sam Penias, Treasury Secretary Andrew Oaeke, and Personnel Management Secretary Taies Sansan—have been suspended pending a thorough investigation into the events leading to the disturbances.

This SoE, invoked under Section 226 of the Constitution, aims to ensure the safety and security of the National Capital District and address the underlying issues that led to the recent disturbances.

Prime Minister Marape, flanked by National Executive Council (NEC) members and Government MPs, made the declaration following a day of extensive meetings with the National Security Advisory Committee, National Security Council, and NEC.

Deputy Police Commissioner Special Operations, Donald Yamasombi, has been appointed Controller of the State-of-Emergency and will serve as Acting Police Commissioner during this period. Additionally, Assistant Police Commissioner Samson Kua has been appointed Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Special Operations.

The investigation into the payroll issue will be led by Chief Secretary Ivan Pomaleu and Secretary for Justice and Attorney-General Dr. Eric Kwa. Simultaneously, police criminal investigations will be conducted into the police stopwork and the ensuing rioting and looting.

Prime Minister Marape emphasised the need to address the organised nature of the unrest and identified individuals orchestrating the chaos.

“We have over 1,000 members of the PNG Defence Force already on standby to come and work under State-of-Emergency laws. They will step in, wherever necessary, to contain any situations that may arise going forward into the future,” Prime Minister Marape stated.

Acknowledging concerns within the disciplined forces, particularly regarding the payroll issue, Prime Minister Marape stressed that the rioting and looting must not be repeated. Over the next 14 days, an administrative review will be conducted across the Police, Treasury, Finance, and Personnel Management sectors to prevent a recurrence of such incidents.

“We want to secure democracy, the rule of law, and good administration of public service organisations, including the disciplined forces. Enough is enough, and I am mobilising Grade 12 school leavers to be trained to take your place in the disciplined forces if you step out of line,” Prime Minister Marape said.