19 Mar 2012

PNG rival group welcomes Australian foreign minister's comments

9:41 am on 19 March 2012

Papua New Guinea's rival attorney general, Sir Arnold Amet, has welcomed Australia's concerns following the adjourned debate on deferring this year's general elections.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, last week threatened sanctions against Papua New Guinea if the government delays the June elections.

Mr Carr says if the poll was put back Canberra would have to consider sanctions.

Papua New Guinea's deputy prime minister Belden Namah inflamed speculation of a delayed poll two weeks ago when he publicly called on prime minister Peter O'Neill to delay the poll for 12 months.

He has since reversed his position, saying the poll will go ahead as scheduled.

Sir Arnold, who is a supporter of the ousted Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, says it is unfortunate that Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard quickly embraced the O'Neill Regime.

He says that puts Australia in an awkward position where she must remain a silent spectator in the Region as PNG's political crisis unfolds.

Sir Arnold says he appreciates Mr Carr's courage in breaking the silence and speaking out on the importance of PNG fulfilling its democratic obligations.

He says it is also important for Australia to support PNG in upholding the integrity and independence of its judiciary.