13 Dec 2011

PNG Governor-General to have talks with both camps in political stand-off

10:07 pm on 13 December 2011

Papua New Guinea's Governor-General is reported to have arranged talks with the two main parties in the country's unprecedented political stand-off.

The Peter O'Neill government is continuing to defy a Supreme Court ruling that has restored Sir Michael Somare to the prime ministership.

The Court ruled on Monday that the parliamentary election of Mr O'Neill on August the 2nd, after the Speaker had declared the prime ministership vacant, was unconstitutional.

The Governor-General was due to speak separately to Mr O'Neill and Sir Michael tonight.

Both the Somare and O'Neill groups have so far been refused entry into government house to have a swearing-in ceremony.

Peter O'Neill and around sixty MPs who support him managed to barge through armed police at the gates of Government house in their bid to be sworn in again but were not allowed to get into the building.

A spokesperson for Sir Michael, Betha Somare, says she doesn't understand the reason for the blockade at government house:

"We're waiting for these guys, for reason to prevail, something... commonsense so that our ministers can go up to Government House and get sworn in because the Governor-General will have to act on what the court has ordered."

Betha Somare says the police force is divided in their loyalties between Sir Michael Somare and Peter O'Neill.

Meanwhile, despite the confusion surrounding the government, the Somare camp has appointed a new police commissioner.

NBC reports that the new acting commissioner, Fred Yakasa, replaces Tom Kulunga, who was appointed only weeks ago by the O'Neill government.

The attorney general in Sir Michael's government, Sir Arnold Amet, announced the appointment, saying Mr Kulunga had gone past the retirement age.

He also says Mr Kulunga had failed to ensure that the Governor General was fully protected in relation to the issues before the court.