Minister resigns over video of luxury Coronation trip

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 Morseby on Friday outside Parliament House.

Papua New Guinea is a Commonwealth nation in the Pacific, where King Charles is the head of state.

In a statement, Tkatchenko said in a statement on Friday that 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 in two weeks.

“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 ten officials to see the coronation of King Charles, at a cost of up to $1m, 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 public services in the impoverished country.

Mr Tkatchenko told Australia’s ABC her critics were “primitive animals” who had “nothing to do”.

“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 were “taken the completely wrong way”.

He added they were targeted only at individuals who had made “disgusting and vile comments” about his daughter.

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.

The 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 arrival the following day.

The White House has confirmed President Biden will stopover in Port Morseby after traveling from the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Japan.

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