Unions, churches appeal for resolve to political crisis

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 20th December 2011


TRADE unions have deferred a 48-hour ultimatum to shut down essential services to allow the two political factions time to resolve their differences.
Church leaders too have urged the two camps to bury the hatchet and move the nation forward.
They raised their concerns yesterday before Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio accepted Peter O’Neill as the prime minister and swore in his cabinet.
His suspension as governor-general following his swearing in of Sir Michael Somare’s government last week was yesterday lifted, allowing him to officiate in the swearing-in at Government House.    
Trade Union Congress president Michael Malabag confirmed yesterday that the 31 unions had issued a petition to the factions headed by Somare and O’Neill voicing their concerns.
“We are speaking on behalf of the people, especially our workers, and the silent majority,” Malabag said.
“We deferred the 48-hour ultimatum for an indefinite period because of concerns raised to the union by the general public, diplomatic heads and business houses who have told us that by withdrawing all essential services, the people will be the ones to suffer during the festive season.
“Opportunists might use the shutting down of essential services for their own gain to loot properties owned by the businesses and the state.
“This is the reason we are deferring the ultimatum after collecting resolutions from all our member unions,”
Malabag said.
Church leaders representing the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches offered their services to facilitate any mediation process between the two factions.
Rev Joseph Walters, Archbishop John Ribat and Sir Samson Lowa are waiting for the groups led by Sir Michael and O’Neill to discuss the matter.
“We, as a neutral body representing the churches nationwide and the conscience of the nation, are offering ourselves to mediate for a peaceful end to this impasse,” Walters said.
“Our voices represent God and to reject our call is rejecting God,” he said.
He urged Christian MPs on both sides to stand united as servants of God and demonstrate true Christian unity and brotherhood.
Ribat said church leaders had raised their concern on the situation
the country faced and many Christians had been praying for God to intervene.
Sir Samson said the people of PNG had been patient because they wanted peace to prevail.