Asia-Pacific

Calls for calm in PNG after police anger over unpaid APEC wages

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Authorities in Papua New Guinea's capital are talking down panic after police stormed the country's parliament over unpaid wages.

Authorities in Papua New Guinea's capital have called for calm after security forces stormed the country's parliament, spurring unrest and looting across the city.

The country's parliament went into lockdown on Tuesday after about 100 disgruntled police and security guards converged on the building, demanding payment of allowances for work during the APEC leaders' summit in Port Moresby.

Images posted by opposition lawmaker Bryan Kramer on social media showed broken windows, smashed furniture, framed pictures torn from corridor walls and plants tipped over.

PNG police officers and soldiers have stormed parliament over unpaid wages.
PNG police officers and soldiers have stormed parliament over unpaid wages.
Twitter / Mark Davis @PoroMark

Around Port Moresby, businesses, government buildings and schools closed early, while looting and violence were reported.

The city's governor, Powes Parkop, later urged calm and a return to "business as usual" on Wednesday, saying a deal had been brokered to pay the wages as soon as possible.

"Schools should return to normal, shops should open, offices and business should operate as normal ... There is no cause for concern," he said.

He described the dispute as "regrettable" and said the payment was now an administrative matter.

Member nations, including Australia, handed over significant sums of money to help the city - which has a reputation for violent crime and lawlessness - host world leaders over the past week.

Several windows have been broken inside the parliament building.
Several windows were broken inside the parliament building.
PNG TV

However, many residents were angered and protests were held when PNG's government purchased a fleet of expensive Maserati cars for the APEC event.

The spending on the conference has been a magnet for government criticism, having previously struggled to pay debt and public workers' wages.

PNG has suffered economically since a downturn in global commodity prices, the failure of an LNG project to deliver a promised economic boom and a deadly earthquake in February.

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