The National, Tuesday 06th December 2011
By ELLEN TIAMU
THE government will be responding to a petition from leaders of the nine districts in Morobe presented to the police and national planning ministers yesterday in Lae.
John Boito and Sam Basil went to Lae to receive the petition on behalf of the prime minister which called for, among other things, the suspension of the Morobe provincial government, an independent audit of provincial government and administration funds.
With Lae declared a fighting zone, following ethnic clashes about a month ago, police allowed about 30 people made up of Morobean settlement representatives, academics, business people and women and Ahi representatives for the presentation.
Representatives said they did not represent any political leader nor did they come from a fighting zone but from the haus krai of the eight slain Morobeans who died during the unrest, purportedly at the hands of police.
The bodies of the eight are still at the Angau Memorial Hospital morgue. And the petitioners are demanding that they be compensated for by the state because they died when police opened fire and that they be buried in Lae as Morobean heroes because they died defending the city and province.
The group also asked Boito to review the recent appointment of the police chiefs for Lae and Morobe, all four of whom are from the highlands region.
In receiving their petition on behalf of the government, Basil said that although the people had given 14 days for an answer from the government, the Prime Minister had personally given him an undertaking that a reply would be forthcoming within the next two days.
The prime minister would be seeking the counsel of the nine Morobe MPs before the government makes a reply.
Boito told the gathering that the unrest was not a fight between Morobeans and highlanders but against illegal street vendors and pickpockets.
He also took time to apologise to the families of those who were killed and injured during the fights and added that it was good to see the petition handed over peacefully.