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Arrest Speaker: Papua New Guinea Trade Union

Wednesday 18 December 2013, by siawi3

Source: http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/papua-new-guinea/3990/arrest-speaker-png-trade-union/

PORT MORESBY, PNG --- The Papua New Guinea Trade Union Congress (PNGTUC) has called on the police to arrest National Parliament Speaker Theo Zurenuoc for destroying “public property”.

The appeal comes on the back of more public condemnation of the “cleansing” exercise which the Speaker began last week to remove “ungodly images and idols” from the House.

A lintel containing 19 ancestral masks from the provinces were removed and chopped up in the first wave of the exercise, a four-tonne pole which contained carving traditions from around the country was the next on the list until Prime Minister Peter O’Neill personally intervened on Tuesday and stopped the work.

PNGTUC general secretary John Paska praised the PM but said Zurenuoc’s actions were criminal in nature and he should be arrested.

Community Development Minister Loujaya Kouza, who admitted in an exclusive interview with the Post-Courier that an Israel-based Messianic group advised her to push for the removal of the intricate carvings, should be stripped of her portfolio, according to Paska.

Incensed Papua New Guineans took to social media to slam the Speaker and Kouza, some of them demanding that the two Morobe MPs renounce their PNG citizenship and move to Israel

Others, including union and church leaders lamented the failure by the two leaders to appreciate that the carvings were inanimate objects and had no bearing on human behaviour, consequently crooked politicians are unlikely to change overnight if “evil” was driven out of Parliament.

Despite revelations by this newspaper of Zurenuoc and Kouza’s behind-the-scenes role in pushing for the carvings’ destruction, Morobe Governor Kelly Naru jumped to their defence yesterday, saying the Speaker was acting on the recommendations of Parliament’s House Committee and the destruction was justified.

Meanwhile, the PNG Council of Churches will push for the abolishment of the “covenant” which the Somare government signed in 2008.

The agreement which then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare signed to formally recognise the “God of Israel as the God of PNG” appears to be the catalyst for the push to destroy the carvings within and outside the National Parliament.

According to the council’s deputy chairman Archbishop John Ribat, a small selected group put together the agreement that time which the former PM eventually signed.

“The signing of this covenant has been made without the approval or discussion and dialogue of the Council of Churches,” he said.

Members of the council will seek an audience with the PM Peter O’Neill to discuss the abolishment, he added.