Papua New Guinea

Rebels seize military HQ


Published

Earlier today military rebels led by retired Colonel Yaura Sasa took over the Taurama Barracks as well as the Military Headquarters at Murray Barracks and placed head of the armed forces, Brigadier General Francis Agwi under house arrest.

The rebel leader has said that he has been appointed by Michael Somare, the disputed prime minister (or former prime minister depending upon your point of view) and that current leader Peter O’Neill has one week in which to leave the prime ministerial post.

Although there has been no bloodshed so far, the move is an escalation of a dispute which has been running for months.

Michael Somare was replaced by Papua New Guinea’s parliament in August last year whilst he was abroad seeking medical treatment. Upon his return he contested the move and said that the newly appointed prime minister, Peter O’Neill had no legitimacy and should be removed.

After months of wrangling, last month the Supreme Court and Governor-General Michael Ogio said that Somare had been illegally removed and should be reinstated. Days later Ogio changed his mind saying that he had been given bad legal advice.

Today’s incident is an escalation of that dispute. An AP report says that O’Neill has told the Australian government that “authorities were taking steps to manage the situation.”

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