By THOMAS HUKAHU
NO protest march will be allowed in Port Moresby today, that’s the stern warning from police yesterday.
NCD metropolitan commander Chief Supt Fred Yakasa told a media conference that the decision was in the best interest of city residents and the business community.
The decision stemmed from a nationwide planned protest march, scheduled for today, by non-governmental organisation and civil society activist Noel Anjo and his group.
The group had planned to march to parliament and demand Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and cabinet to effect its immediate recall to deal with alleged controversial issues like the reappointment of Sir Paulias Matane as governor-general and the passage of the Environment Amendment Act and other bills.
While Anjo had promised city authorities that the march would be peaceful, police felt it would only endanger lives and properties.
Yakasa said the decision taken by the authorities was to prevent opportunists from taking advantage of the situation to loot and destroy properties.
Anjo and his group had also visited Lae and the highlands creating awareness on tomorrow’s planned protest.
However, opportunists in Eastern Highland’s Kainantu and Goroka took advantage of the situation and looted shops early this month.
Yakasa said this would not happen in Port Moresby.
He said police would be out very early in the morning today to make sure that no protest march was staged.
“I am discouraging any individual or group from participating in any protest marches.
“Any protest march staged will be deemed illegal, and people will be arrested,” Yakasa stressed.
Yesterday afternoon, police commanders from different sections and stations were told by Yakasa to be on alert and disallow any groups from gathering.
“Police are not trying to stop or suppress the rights of the public to voice their concerns on genuine issues, however, there are other safer and orderly avenues available that could be used,” he added.
“Those attempting to stage a march must understand and respect our position regarding the situation.
“In the best interest of city residents’ safety, peace and good order, no march must take place,” Yakasa said.
Late yesterday afternoon, a group of men were moving around the city in a vehicle calling on workers not to go to work and to join the protest march.