SYDNEY — Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill vowed on Wednesday to do "all that is necessary" to stop disgruntled landowners disrupting a visit by Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.
The royal couple are due to arrive in the impoverished Pacific nation on Saturday as part of a two-week tour to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee that will also take in Australia and New Zealand.
But landowners who claim they are still owed some 4.5 million kina (US$2.2 million) in outstanding compensation for the land on which the capital Port Moresby's airport is built have threatened to blockade the terminal.
Their spokesman Kila Joe Gabutu told the local Post-Courier newspaper that the government "must know that the Prince will land on our land".
"If it means shutting down the airport on the arrival of Prince Charles, then we can do it and face the consequences," he said.
But O'Neill, who recently won national elections that ended months of political manoeuvring and turmoil over the leadership, said the royal visit was "on track and will not be disrupted".
"It is wrong and indeed against the law for a group of people to try to blackmail the government by threatening to disrupt the royal visit," O'Neill said in a statement.
"The government will do all that is necessary to protect these assets, so that the services they provide are not disrupted."
O'Neill urged the landowners to "be civilised and to direct their claims to the appropriate agencies to be dealt with in the proper and lawful manner".
"The royal visit gives us an opportunity to showcase Papua New Guinea to the rest of the world," the prime minister added.
"It's a significant event which the people of Papua New Guinea are looking forward to."
It will be a nostalgic return to rugged, resource-rich PNG for Charles, heir to the throne, who first visited in 1966 as a student of Australia's Geelong Grammar School and has been back twice since.
Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has never been to PNG and is reportedly taking a private holiday at a holistic health retreat in India ahead of the jubilee tour.
Prince William, Charles' eldest son, recently toured Asia and the Pacific with his wife Catherine for jubilee celebrations but they did not stop in Australia, New Zealand or PNG.
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