15 Dec 2011

O'Neill orders police to take control of PNG government offices

4:20 pm on 15 December 2011

Peter O'Neill has ordered up to 150 police to take control of government offices, declaring with the backing of his cabinet that he is in control of the Papua New Guinean government.

At a press conference in parliament today Mr O'Neill revoked a late night order by Sir Michael Somare to reinstate his police commissioner Fred Yakasa.

He says seeking government from the barrel of a gun is unacceptable.

Mr O'Neill says additional police have been flown in from outside Port Moresby.

He says he expects police to carry out their duty should Sir Michael refuse to leave, but stressed there was nothing stopping his minority government from coming to parliament.

Mr O'Neill says they refuse to come to parliament, because they don't think can run a minority government, which is not acceptable in a democracy.

He says the officers would also seize the finance department, prime minister's department and government house.

Mr O'Neill says he was not ordering the arrest of Sir Michael or his ministers.

AAP reports that there is a contingent of police loyal to Sir Michael in Port Moresby, however the majority of police have thus far been at pains to remain neutral.

The nation's military has also remained neutral and largely silent.

Sir Michael had been expected to give a press conference on Thursday morning but it was put off until later in the afternoon without explanation.