The PNG Defence Force commander, Commodore Peter Ilau [left], has denied reports that disgruntled soldiers plan to arrest Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare upon his return to the country from an overseas trip where he attended the UN General Assembly. If Mr Somare was arrested, it would throw PNG into crisis.
Police are on full alert following reports that the national security advisory committee met over the weekend to discuss the threat. “We are not leaving anything to chance,” an official said. Police Commissioner Gari Baki confirmed police were on full alert and were treating as “serious” rumours of the soldiers’ secret plan.
Unsubstantiated reports of PNGDF soldiers arresting the Prime Minister for treason over his alleged role in helping Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti escape extradition have been circulating in Port Moresby for the last two weeks. Commodore Ilau said the 2,000-strong PNDF was loyal to the Government-of-the-day and an internal army investigation had uncovered nothing. He described the media reports as “rubbish”.
The Opposition and civil organisations appealed to the Prime Minister to step aside after he made an unsuccessful attempt in the National Court recently to quash the proceedings of a PNGDF board of inquiry into the 2006 Moti incident. The PNDF report incriminated Sir Michael, senior bureaucrats and highly-ranked soldiers over their alleged role in Moti’s clandestine escape to the Solomon Islands using an army aircraft. While Sir Michael sought court orders to quash the report, the application was unsuccessful and the report was made public.