PM O’neill assures Sogavare of safety of SI students in PNG

PRIME Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has been assured by his Papua New Guinea (PNG) counterpart, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that Port Moresby will ensure that Solomon Islands students studying at various tertiary institutions in PNG are provided adequate security as the University of Papua New Guinea students protest for his removal as Prime Minister is now in its fourth week.

The assurance was made yesterday in a bilateral meeting in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby between the two Melanesian leaders   ahead of the 8th ACP Heads of State and Government Summit which begins today.

The PNG Prime Minister told his Solomon Islands counterpart that the students’ protests have ‘lost momentum’ and that he expected normal classes to resume very soon.

Prime Minister O’Neill said the University of Papua New Guinea has always had a vibrant debating environment, adding that the current UPNG students’ protest is influenced by PNG politics as the country heads for the next national general elections in 2017.

The PNG Prime Minister told his Solomon Islands counterpart that PNG will always support Solomon Islands students studying at UPNG and other institutions in PNG and ensure they are safe to continue and complete their studies.

He said Port Moresby takes the issue of student security as a matter of grave concern but assured that he will take care of it.

Prime Minister O’Neill added that Port Moresby may look at extending the terms of study for Solomon Islands students affected by the protest if required.

More than a thousand Solomon Islanders are undertaking studies at various PNG institutions and the majority of these students are funded by the PNG Government under its bilateral cooperation agreement with the Solomon Islands Government.

Source: PM Press