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Papua New Guinea minister resigns over coronation cost controversy

Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister has resigned after controversy over the size of the delegation and the amount spent by the country to attend the coronation of the King.

Justin Tkatchenko stated in a press release that he “stood back” after consulting the Commonwealth country’s Prime Minister, James Marape.

“I don’t want the recent events to interfere with official visits and summits that we will have with all world leaders in the next few weeks,” said Mr Tkatchenko, referring to the summit of Pacific Island Nations on 22 May.

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King’s First Outing After Coronation

He added: “I want to make sure that the truth is revealed and all misinformation, lies and misunderstandings are rectified.”

Local media reported that a delegation of 30 people attending the coronation received an allowance of 50,000 kinas (PS11240) to cover hotel and airfare costs.

Esther Kila wrote on the PNG Post Courier’s website: “Insane numbers of delegates are going overseas for so-called meetings but there is no money for human rights services.”

Bill Toraso, the government’s spokesperson, denied media reports that the Governor General’s Office had spent 3 million kina (659,200 PS) but confirmed to Reuters news agency, that 10 members of staff and 10 guests had travelled to London.

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Savannah Tkatchenko, the daughter of Mr Tkatchenko who accompanied him instead of a spouse in Singapore, became the focal point of local outrage at the perceived excessiveness of the delegation. She had posted on social networking sites about luxury shopping just before boarding the flight to Singapore.

After criticism, Mr Tkatchenko said on Australian TV that those who attacked his daughter were “primitive animal”.

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Mr Marape apologized to the family of Mr Tkatchenko for what he described as “the traumatizing experience over the past couple of days”.

He said, “No woman should be treated as Savannah has been over the past few days.”


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