Papua New Guinea foreign minister resigns amid controversy over travel

Papua New Guinea foreign minister resigns amid controversy over travel expenses to coronation – CNN

Leon Lord/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko attends a welcoming ceremony at the Pacific Islands Forum Special Leaders Retreat in Nadi on February 23.

(CNN) — Papua New Guinea (PNG) Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko said he was stepping down as minister on Friday amid a controversy over the cost and size of the country’s delegation to King Charles III’s coronation. prevailed in London.

Tkatchenko said in a statement that he had “resigned” after consulting Prime Minister James Marape, who would take over the portfolio. He stays in Parliament.

“I want to make sure that the recent events do not interfere with the official visits and summits that we will have with all world leaders in the coming weeks,” Tkatchenko said.

“I also want to make sure that the truth of this matter is clarified and the misinformation and lies are corrected,” he added.

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to make a historic visit on May 22nd.

On Wednesday, Tkachenko said Biden will sign a defense pact with PNG, which is being courted by the United States and China in a contest for influence in the Pacific island region. Tkachenko was closely involved in the US negotiations.

Marape said in a statement Friday night he would oversee preparations for the arrival of Biden, Modi and more than a dozen Pacific Island leaders. He commended Tkachenko for putting the national interest first.

Media and online news sites in PNG, a Pacific island and member of the Commonwealth, have been rife with insults and criticism of the travel expenses of a large PNG delegation of 30 people since Saturday’s coronation at London’s Westminster Abbey, with many citing the money would be better issued to hospitals.

Each delegate received an allowance of 50,000 kinah (US$14,000) to cover hotel and airfare expenses.

Marape also said he wanted to apologize to Tkatchenko’s family, and particularly his daughter Savannah, for what he called “the traumatic experience of the past few days.”

“No woman deserves to be treated the way Savannah has been treated in recent days,” he said.

Tkatchenko’s daughter, who accompanied him on the trip, has become the focus of anger after she posted a TikTok video discussing luxury shopping before boarding a flight in Singapore.

Earlier, Tkatchenko apologized for his comments to Australian state broadcaster calling people who criticized his daughter on social media “primitive animals”, prompting further backlash.

Marape said it was a “poor choice of words”.

Government House Official Secretary Bill Toraso confirmed to Portal that ten staff members of the governor-general had traveled to London in addition to ten guests and had traveled separately to the government delegation. Two State Department officials also traveled with Tkatchenko, who had been asked by Marape to represent PNG in his place.