The National, Friday, June 10th 2011
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
NATIONAL Alliance and United Resource Party supporters in Western Highlands yesterday staged a peaceful protest march in Mt Hagen city over the sacking of two senior government ministers.
The protesters gathered at Kimininga and marched to Queen’s Park where they were addressed by a number of speakers from the highlands region.
They demanded acting Prime Minister Sam Abal travel to Mt Hagen next week and tell them the truth behind the sacking of Don Polye and William Duma from the foreign affairs and immigration and petroleum and energy ministerial portfolios respectively.
Many speakers praised the two leaders’ performance at the national and international arena and did not deserve to be dumped in such a manner.
They said Abal’s claim the two men had not been performing and were trying to destabilise the government were very shallow.
Speaker Wan Kewa, from Kagamuga village in Hagen Central, said after the 2007 general election, Polye and Duma, as party leaders, brought with them enough MPs to help NA form government.
He said because of their contributions, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare justly rewarded them with two senior ministries.
URP, of which Duma is the leader, boasts the second biggest political party in government.
Kewa said it would only be proper if the acting prime minister paid a visit next week “and tell us the truth”.
He also warned that any procrastination by the executive government would only inflame the situation further.
Protester Robin Aipi, from Muyan village in Enga’s Kandep district, called on Abal to tell the people what he had done for the country and his electorate.
He said Polye and Duma deserved praise because they had done a lot for the multi-billion-kina LNG project and for roadworks in the country.
Aipi said the country needed people like Polye and Duma to move forward.
Another protester from Jiwaka region, Pawa Wai, asked: “How can an acting prime minister sack two ministers who have shown true leadership at the national and international level?”
Wai said for the good of the country and its people, Polye and Duma “must be reinstated”.
Many Engans did not travel to Mt Hagen yesterday following news of the protest.
Gamar Iki, from the Enga provincial government media unit, confirmed many Engans decided against travelling to Mt Hagen yesterday.