27 Jan 2012

Fears over involvement of military in PNG's political standoff

6:50 am on 27 January 2012

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister says a military mutiny is over and the government has regained full control of its military barracks.

About 20 soldiers put Defence Force Commander Brigadier Francis Agwi under house arrest and replaced him with Brigadier Yaura Sasa in the latest move linked to the power struggle between two political groups claiming to be government.

Late last night, Peter O'Neill told reporters that the military commander, Francis Agwi, has been freed from house arrest and is back in charge of the army.

A former commander of Papua New Guinea's Defence Force, Jerry Singirok, says he's deeply concerned about the involvement of the military in the political standoff.

General Singirok says these are dangerous waters for the military to enter.

"The moment they involve the military in a callout or whatever role to assert political authority, then obviously when there's a political running stalemate, if you start to use the military force then you have virtually lost the heartbeat of the nation's democratic integrity."