Worrying trend

THE ongoing political stalemate between the rival camps led by Sir Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill over the leadership of Papua New Guinea is increasingly shifting towards who can command police forces.
Worrying trend Worrying trend Worrying trend Worrying trend Worrying trend

Police have done an admirable job in remaining neutral since the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Somare was unlawfully removed as prime minister on August 2.

Yet the O'Neill-led coalition still dominates parliament and appears to have more support among the public in Port Moresby, according to various reports so far.

As widely known, the two groups which both claim to be the PNG government each have their own appointed police commissioners.

But the O'Neill-appointed police commissioner, Tom Kulunga, could get more backing from police than his Somare-appointed counterpart Fred Yakasa.

According to the twitter account of ABC correspondent Liam Fox, policemen from the armed robbery unit, who were previously aligned to Yakasa, had handed themselves and their weapons in to Kulunga.

However, earlier this morning in an ABC Radio interview with Fox, Kulunga denied the police were being split into groups supporting either O'Neill or Somare.

"The level of division is not that big," Kulunga told the radio station.

"There is a very small minor group that is not conforming to our code of ethics and doing things slightly outside."

Additional police have reportedly been flown in to the capital from Lae and Wabag and there are fears the police aligned to O'Neill will "take over" key government offices at Morauta Haus in Waigani, where the Somare camp is based.

But Fox reports Kulunga does not believe such a move will happen.

"No. And we will ensure, take every step to make sure that it doesn't end [in] violence," Kulunga said.

The PNG Defence Force has remained strictly neutral.

How the political crisis will play out over the next few days remains unclear.

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