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[alpha] INSIGHT - PNG - Two PMs - CN65

Released on 2012-02-29 14:00 GMT

Email-ID 218047
Date 2011-12-14 15:14:35
**intel on the OS report below.

ATTRIBUTION: Australian contact connected with the government and
natural resources
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: Former Australian Senator

If Somare tries to pass anything through the House, he will fail, and
under the Westminster tradition that triggers cause for the G-G to appoint
another PM even if there's been no vote of no confidence.

Uncle Ben is advising O'Neill. Peter is sitting in Parliament challenging
Somare to bring on a vote on anything, such as a new Speaker. Of course a
defeat provides a trigger.

We believe Peter will eventually prevail because the Chamber supports him.
This is what Westminster democracy is about.
The business community wants Peter, as does Australia. Somare returns PNG
to a cess pit of corruption, incompetence and mediocrity. Need I regale
you with the details of my meeting last year with Somare's housing
minister who was stoned on betel nut?
It is wrong though that business put O'Neill in place: it was Uncle Ben
and his Highlands circle, along with others like Babani. These are the
sensible people.

Papua New Guinea in crisis with two PMs, two police chiefs

PAPUA New Guinea plunged into a constitutional crisis yesterday as Peter
O'Neill, rejecting a Supreme Court ruling that removed him as prime
minister, occupied the government benches in parliament and broke though
a police barricade at the Governor-General's residence.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said PNG had entered uncharted
waters since Monday's Supreme Court split ruling that reinstated Michael
Somare and prompted armed police to stand guard at the vice-regal
residence in Port Moresby .

About 60 MPs loyal to Mr O'Neill stormed past the police at the gates of
Government House yesterday and insisted on a meeting with
Governor-General Michael Oglio.

"We are unarmed and we're the legitimate government," they chanted
according to the ABC.

Standing at the gates of Government House, Mr O'Neill declared: "As
parliament speaks today, I am the prime minister of the country, and
Somare is trying to hijack it with some hooligan policemen."

Some of the police guarding Government House are loyal to Sir Michael.
One of his first acts when the court ordered he return to government was
to reinstate former police commissioner Fred Yakasa and oust Mr
O'Neill's appointee Tom Kulunga.

Mr O'Neill said Mr Oglio had met with him briefly yesterday and said he
had agreed to meet Sir Michael, the founding father of PNG and known as
the grand chief, today.

"I cannot discuss the details of that meeting because he has to afford
the same level of courtesy to the grand chief," Mr O'Neill said.

"He will meet with the grand chief tomorrow. He will then write to both
of us and express his decision on the best way to move forward."

Shots were fired outside Government House on Monday night, and yesterday
Mr O'Neill's treasurer Don Polye urged the MPs to be peaceful amid a
heavily armed police presence.

"We must sit. There is no need for shooting. I urge you all to sit down
and be peaceful," Mr Polye said.

Sir Michael is understood to be at the popular Ela Beach Hotel in Port
Moresby, where he has set up cabinet made up mostly of ministers from
his previous government. Sir Michael's daughter Betha told the news
agency Agence-France Presse that her father had made it to Government
House and been sworn in, although this could not be confirmed elsewhere.

"The PM has already gone into Government House and he's already signed
off on the instruments recognising Sir Michael as prime minister," she

But she added that his ministers had been prevented from joining him
after Mr O'Neill and dozens of his MPs blockaded the building. "What's
happening at the gates of Government House is that the government, or
the rogues that were ousted, have blocked off the Government House
gates," she said. "So the people that are supposed to be sworn in cannot
be sworn in."

Mr Ogio was seeking legal advice yesterday, including from private
lawyers, before deciding which claimant to swear in.

Sir Michael Ogio - appointed Governor-General this year when Sir Michael
was unquestionably the prime minister - swore in Mr O'Neill at the
August 2 parliamentary sitting that elected him after Speaker Jeffery
Nape ruled that the top office was vacant.

At that stage, Sir Michael - who has run the country for almost half of
its 36 years of independence - had been away in Singapore for four
months undergoing medical treatment.

The Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Salamo Injia ruled by 3-2 on
Monday that the prime ministership was not vacant, since Sir Michael had
neither resigned nor been ruled medically unfit to govern.

Sir Michael, 75, yesterday denied his health would prevent him from
returning to office. "My doctor in Singapore believes that my health is
as good as any. I'm well enough to be a 40 year old again," he told the

Sir Michael's claim to the prime ministership rests with the 3-2 ruling.
Mr O'Neill's claim rests with his re-election yesterday by parliament,
69-0, following the judgment.

Mr Nape said during the emergency parliament sitting that he would only
recognise the government of Mr O'Neill, whose MPs refused to vacate the
government's side of the chamber. Adding to the chaos yesterday, the
rivals pushed ahead with appointments, leaving the country with two
cabinets and two police chiefs.

The police, divided between Mr O'Neill's commissioner, Mr Kulunga, and
Sir Michael's new appointment, Mr Yakasa, were playing a key role in
choosing which group could gain access to key institutions of state and,
most importantly, to the Governor-General. The armed police outside the
Governor-General's residence were loyal to Sir Michael, the ABC

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told ABC radio from New York he was "deeply
concerned" about the situation in the former Australian mandate.

"Obviously there are heightened political intentions within Port Moresby
with two, as it were, alternative prime ministers. This is unknown
terrain in Papua New Guinea," Mr Rudd said.

"But we of course have been urging calm on the part of all parties. The
PNG Defence Force has been directed to remain within barracks.

"We have a very, very protracted political dispute between a number of
politicians in Port Moresby.

"We therefore have a responsibility to support a peaceful resolution to
this dispute - violence would help nobody - and that's what we intend to
do while at the same time fully respecting Papua New Guinea's

"We therefore will be watching these developments very closely and using
quiet diplomacy with all parties. Our immediate concern is simply to
await the deliberations of the Governor-General."

Australians in Papua New Guinea have been warned to stay away from
crowded areas, particularly near the court and government buildings.

Jennifer Richmond
w: 512-744-4324
c: 512-422-9335


Benjamin Preisler
Watch Officer
+216 22 73 23 19