World News

Police Officers Storm Papua New Guinea Parliament, Demanding Pay

Posted November 20, 2018 1:27 a.m. EST

Disgruntled police officers and other workers stormed the Parliament building in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, breaking glass and overturning furniture as they demanded to be paid for their work during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting.

Harry Momos, a spokesman for Parliament, said about 300 people forced their way into the building in Port Moresby, the capital. The situation cooled down Tuesday afternoon after the group met with the speaker of Parliament and the government finance minister, he said.

“We don’t expect any further damage or confrontation,” Momos said.

Papua New Guinea, the poorest of the 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, known as APEC, had a rare turn in the global spotlight as host of the group’s annual summit meeting, which ended Sunday. The Parliament raid Tuesday was an embarrassing footnote to the event.

Momos said the officers would be paid Wednesday.

A video shared by Bryan Kramer, an opposition lawmaker, showed art ripped off the walls, toppled plants and an overturned X-ray machine and desk. The windows at the front of the building had been shattered.

Kramer said that “numerous staff of Parliament were assaulted during this confrontation.” Momos said there were no serious injuries.

The government of Papua New Guinea had been criticized for spending lavishly on the APEC meeting, including $7 million on 40 Maserati sedans to ferry world leaders around the capital. About 7,000 people attended, including Vice President Mike Pence and President Xi Jinping of China.

Just north of Australia, the country of 8 million people is riddled with crime and is in the midst of a national health crisis, including the return of polio. Less than a fifth of the population has access to electricity, and almost 85 percent lives on subsistence farming.