Not yet divided or conquered

DEPUTY Prime Minister Belden Namah called for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to resign on Monday in the wake of the Indonesian air incident controversy. While the two leaders have since patched up their differences, Namah has come under more scrutiny.
Not yet divided or conquered Not yet divided or conquered Not yet divided or conquered Not yet divided or conquered Not yet divided or conquered

Dissatisfied with O'Neill's softer stance against the Indonesian government, Namah criticised O'Neill on Roger Hauofa's popular radio talkback show.

Namah called for O'Neill to resign and further said his fate would be decided in parliament on January 17 according to The National.

O'Neill responded later by saying he would not resign and PNG needed "mature" leaders at a quickly organised press conference.

But by yesterday the war of words appeared to have ended with both O'Neill and Namah photographed embracing each other on the front page of the Post-Courier.

Namah speaks out

Namah was in the PNG government's Falcon jet on November 29 when two Indonesian fighter jets buzzed past with no warning while in Indonesian air space.

He fired off a statement on the matter on Monday which has been cited by The National and published in its entirety on various blog sites.

Namah said the other passengers on board the Falcon at the time were National Planning Minister Sam Basil, Police Minister John Boito, "oil palm investors from Malaysia" and air crew.

While Indonesian government sources have told media outlets of technical issues with flight clearance, Namah said all necessary clearance was received by Malaysian customs before the Falcon took off from Subang airport.

"As we were flying over Makassar in Indonesia we were intercepted by two Indonesian fighter jets," Namah said.

"When our pilots enquired with the Indonesian authorities of the incident they could not give any specific reasons for the intercept.

"This to me, as a former military officer with Papua New Guinea Defence Force, is an act of intimidation and aggression by Indonesian military."

In response to reported claims the Falcon was carrying $US250 million in cash according to Indonesian intelligence sources, Namah denied this "categorically".

"Imagine carrying such a large amount of money on the small Falcon jet," Namah said.

"You would probably need 20 Falcon jets to transport that kind of cash."

Namah further said you would need "2x40" feet containers to pack such a sum.

Comments on the blogosphere to Namah's statement have touched on why Malaysian oil palm investors were travelling in the government jet and what the purpose of the trip was.

There has also been some interest in Namah's cargo-size specifications for $250 million in cash.

While Namah and O'Neill appear to have set aside their differences, Namah has more numbers in parliament behind him. The People's National Congress party O'Neill leads won only four of the 109 seats in the 2007 election.

Sir Michael Somare, who was found to be PNG's rightful PM by the Supreme Court in December, has not resigned and his camp could pursue more legal avenues against the O'Neill-Namah coalition over the next few months.

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