Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pro-O'Neill police take control of PNG assets

Pro-O'Neill police take control of PNG assets

Updated December 15, 2011 18:15:00
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There are signs the political deadlock in Papua New Guinea may have entered a dangerous new phase, with extra police being flown into the capital to take control of government assets.
The opposing camps of Sir Michael Somare and Peter O'Neill are not backing down on their claims to the country's prime ministership.
Now Mr O'Neill says up to 150 extra police have been flown into Port Moresby from around the country to take control of government assets.
He says they have already taken control of the government printing office and will also target the finance department, the prime minister's department and government house.
At the printing office the doors are padlocked and staff say around 20 armed police arrived last night and left this morning.
Meanwhile a National Gazette has been published declaring Mr O'Neill as prime minister.
At a news conference in parliament today he revoked a late-night order by Sir Michael to reinstate his police commissioner, Fred Yakasa.
Mr O'Neill says he expects police to carry out their duty should Sir Michael refuse to leave his position.
"We have had to bring in additional police personnel from outside of Port Moresby to come into Port Moresby to restore possession of government assets so that public service can continue to function," he said.
A group of police loyal to Sir Michael has been guarding government house since Monday night, when the Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement as prime minister.
Mr O'Neill and his MPs have been camped in Parliament House since Monday.
They claim Sir Michael's absence overseas for five months for medical reasons meant he had vacated the prime ministership, therefore parliament was entitled to elect Mr O'Neill as PM.
With the stand-off between the two men now in its third day, non-government groups are warning the situation is becoming dangerous.
Both men each have their own ministers and cabinet and their own police commissioners.

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