Papua New Guinea PM Says Military Mutiny is Over
VOA News January 26, 2012
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says that a mutiny led by a retired military commander is over and that the government has regained control of its defense headquarters.
Yaura Sasa and a group of around 30 armed rebel soldiers placed the country's top commander under house arrest in a bloodless, pre-dawn mutiny early Thursday. He threatened unspecified military action unless O'Neill complied with a Supreme Court order to reinstate ousted Prime Minister Michael Somare.
But Prime Minister O'Neill told reporters late Thursday that the crisis was over after police arrested at least 15 of the mutineering soldiers and freed the army commander who was under house arrest.
O'Neill said Sasa had been "dealt with," but he refused to say whether he had been placed in custody.
"Obviously there are certain laws that have been breached already, whether by himself or others. And those who have been included in this process will all be dealt with. Everybody - there are no exceptions," said O'Neill.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah said Sasa's actions amounted to treason, and could be punishable by death.
The attempted mutiny was the latest incident in an ongoing political stalemate that has rocked the South Pacific island nation since December, when the Supreme Court ruled that Somare had been illegally replaced while seeking medical attention out of the country.
Governor General Michael Ogio initially supported the ruling and reinstated Somare as prime minister, leaving two alternate governments fighting for power. But he backed down days later.
O'Neill eventually resumed the prime ministership, and appears to have the backing of the majority of the government. But Somare has refused to concede defeat, insisting that he is still the country's legitimate leader.
Some observers say that early elections may be the best way to solve the political standoff. Elections are currently scheduled for June 2012.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|