Papua New Guinea has declared a nine-month State of Emergency in the city of Mendi, following riots and ongoing violence including the torching of an aircraft.

Civil unrest is believed to have broken out in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands (more than 532 kilometers or a 1.5hr flight from the nation’s tourism capital Port Moresby) after a politician lost local elections.

Authorities are said to have lost control of demonstrations when protestors began looting and burning private property, including a warehouse, a governor’s house and a Dash 8 aircraft belonging to Papua New Guinea’s national carrier, Air Niugini, SBS.com.au reported.

As part of the nine-month State of Emergency, additional police will be deployed to the South Highlands Province and local government will be suspended. The nation’s Defence Force has also been called out to enforce civil obedience.

In an online statement, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill, described the actions of protestors as “reckless” and said it has “disgusting the nation”.

He continued, saying that the State of Emergency will restore order to the area, ensure all Leaders with potential involvement in unlawful behavior are held to account, and prevent further unlawful activities.

“Put simply, I have had enough of this nonsense that has been manipulated by people who would call themselves leaders.”

Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill

“Police will investigate every agitator, and every person who was involved in the unrest we saw yesterday,” he said.

“No person is above the law and all involved will face the full force of the law and answer for any crime they have committed.

“The Southern Highlands Province has so much going for it, so many natural resources and agricultural potential.

“We will not let this potential be undermined by people who have failed in politics and want to cause disruption.”

Click here to read his full statement, or click here for Smartraveller updates.

KARRYON has contacted Visit Papua New Guinea for comment on the situation from a tourism perspective.

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