Mekere slams police decision over protest march

National, Normal

OPPOSITION leader Sir Mekere Morauta said yesterday that the decision by the police to prevent the Salvation Army and the PNG Council of Churches from holding a march and rally in support of the United Nations “Stand up and take action” campaign represented a worrying trend.
“Why would anyone in authority prevent this rally from taking place?” Sir Mekere said in a statement.
“All these church and civil society representatives wished to do was to express their concerned about poverty and PNG’s lack of progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and to debate these issues.
“What is wrong with that?  We should be encouraging such debate.  But it seems the Government wants no public discussion of anything,” Sir Mekere said.
“Where is Michael Somare?  This is not the Michael Somare that Papua New Guinea used to know.
“Where have our democratic rights and freedoms gone under this Somare-NA Government?” Sir Mekere asked. 
“This is yet another example of the trend of this Government of turning PNG into a Mugabe-type regime.
“The important institutions of state, like the police, are fast being turned into compliant tool kits by the Government for its political interest.
“Section 46 of our Constitution expressly provides for freedom of expression; section 47 provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association; section 57 provides for enforcement of these guaranteed rights and freedoms.  Is it not the job of the police to uphold our constitution and our laws? Their action to disallow the churches’ rally was a violation of the Constitution.”
Sir Mekere urged all Papua New Guineans to speak out and to insist on protection of their constitutional rights.