• Friday, 01 March 2024
Papua New Guinea minister quits over luxury Coronation trip controversy

Papua New Guinea minister quits over luxury Coronation trip controversy

Papua New Guinea's foreign minister has quit after a controversy over spending on the country's official delegation at King Charles III's coronation.

Justin Tkatchenko travelled with his daughter Savannah, who posted a TikTok showing her first-class plane journey and shopping spree in Singapore.

On Wednesday, he branded her critics "primitive animals".

Mr Tkatchenko's comments sparked protests in the capital Port Moresby on Friday outside Parliament House.

Papua New Guinea is a Commonwealth nation in the Pacific which has King Charles as its head of state.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Tkatchenko said he "stood aside" after consulting with Prime Minister James Marape.

 

He added that he wanted to ensure recent events did not interfere with upcoming official visits by US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"I also want to ensure the truth of this matter is cleared and the misinformation and lies are corrected," he said.

Mr Tkatchenko and his daughter were criticised for travelling with at least 10 officials to see the coronation of King Charles, at a cost of almost $900,000, according to local newspaper Post-Courier.

Government spokesman Bill Toraso confirmed to the Reuters news agency 10 of its staff had travelled to London, alongside 10 guests.

In the since-deleted video, Savannah filmed her visit to luxury fashion stores in Singapore and her meal in the "stunning" first-class lounge on her way to London.

This prompted anger in Papua New Guinea, where some argued that public money would have been better spent on basic services.

 

Mr Tkatchenko blasted his daughter's critics in an interview with Australia's ABC.

"She's absolutely traumatised by these primitive animals," he said. "I call them primitive animals because they are."

"Jealousy is a curse. And, you know, these people clearly show that they have got nothing to do in their lives other than to put down people that want to do something good for their country."

He later apologised about his comments, which he said had been "taken the completely wrong way".

He added they were targeted only at individuals who had made "disgusting and vile comments" about his daughter, including "sexual and violent" threats.

Prime Minister James Marape asked Papua New Guineans to accept Mr Tkatchenko's apology, saying in a statement he too had been offended by the remarks.

 

Mr Tkatchenko's resignation comes ahead of Mr Modi's two-day visit to Papua New Guinea starting on 21 May, which will coincide with Mr Biden's trip the following day.

The White House has confirmed President Biden will stopover in Port Moresby after travelling from the G7 Leaders' Summit in Japan.

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