Frustrated Tari youths disturb Hela ceremony
THE launching of the Hela Transitional Authority (HTA) for
The incident happened in the presence of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony.
Cabinet ministers, MPs and invited guests and thousands of people gathered for the occasion.
Police said before the prime minister could speak, some disgruntled members of the public booed at a speaker and, in the process, stones were thrown at those seated in the grandstand including the prime minister.
A stone hit the master of ceremony and radio personality, Roger Hau’ofa.
Police said the prime minister was shaken by the incident as one of the stones missed him by inches.
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A National Alliance party official said it was a close call, and others on the grandstand quickly formed a barricade around the prime minister, afraid that more stones would be hurled onto the grandstand.
Police had to fire shots into the air to bring the situation under control when people fled the ceremonial area.
The prime minister’s protocol and security officers and cabinet ministers quickly whisked Sir Michael away, however, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru talked the PM into returning to give his speech.
Police officer-in-charge of security Jim Namora, in confirming the incident, described it as “disgraceful and unfortunate”.
He said according to reports, a drug addict among the crowd had thrown the stone that missed the prime minister.
Police are looking for the suspect.
Last December, stones were thrown at several government ministers attending the LNG licenced-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) forum in Tari by frustrated youths who felt they had been left out.
The prime minister was accompanied to Tari by National Planning Minister Paul Tienstein, Arthur Somare (State Enterprises and Finance), Patrick Tammur (Communications), Don Polye (Works, Transport and Civil Aviation), Sasa Zibe (Health), Peter O’Neill (Public Service), Philemon Embel (Sports), Sam Abal (Foreign Affairs) and Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga.