Scathing attack on PNG leadership by former PM

8:07 am on 31 March 2016
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Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

A former Papua New Guinea prime minister has made a scathing attack of the country's leadership, saying it is eroding the independence of institutions in order to protect itself.

Sir Mekere Morauta has urged Papua New Guineans to speak out on the importance of protecting institutions of state from improper influence, intimidation and harassment and financial and procedural abuse.

Sir Mekere's claims centre around moves by the prime minister Peter O'Neill since an arrest warrant was issued for him in 2014 over his alleged role in a major fraud case.

Since then, Mr O'Neill has effectively sidelined those involved in pushing the probe, including police commissioners, fraud squad officers and the anti-corruption body Taskforce Sweep.

In a statement, Sir Mekere has alleged that there had been a number of dangerous attacks on the integrity and independence of national institutions by a small band of leaders who will do anything to protect themselves.

He claims a handful of honest and fearless Papua New Guineans doing their jobs properly are being intimidated and prosecuted while those who help leaders attack institutions are rewarded.

While the prime minister's lawyers have mounted a series of legal challenges to the validity of the arrest warrant, the case is still in the courts. However Mr O'Neill has accused those behind the arrest warrant as being politically motivated.

But public concern appears to be growing about the attempted arrest of the Chief Magistrate, as well as the defiance of, and veiled threats against, the Ombudsman Commission.

Sir Mekere said that no institution was safe from meddling, no officeholder was safe from harassment and intimidation, no process safe from manipulation and perversion, nor any funds safe from abuse, misappropriation and misapplication.