25 May 2012

PNG to declare state of emergency

10:36 pm on 25 May 2012

Papua New Guinea MPs have voted to declare a state of emergency in the nation's capital after rogue police officers surrounded Parliament House on Friday.

The officers later dispersed.

If adopted, the emergency rule would give increased powers to the country's police commissioner to arrest and detain, AAP reports.

Leader of government business Moses Maladina put the motion on Friday at a special sitting of parliament and it is expected to come into force on Saturday.

The move follows another week of political turbulence in PNG in which two factions claiming to be the rightful government have stressed their legitimacy.

The government on Friday also voted to reject the decision of three Supreme Court judges to reinstall Sir Michael Somare as the nation's leader.

Prime Minster Peter O'Neill said the Cabinet would meet on Friday night to prepare advice for Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio, who must approve the state of emergency.

The state of emergency would be extended to trouble spots such as the Southern Highlands and Hela province, the site of a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project, Mr O'Neill said.

Parliamentary sittings are scheduled to resume next Tuesday.

Chief judge charged with sedition

Leader of government business Moses Maladina also moved a motion on Friday that the officers who arrested Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia did so with the approval of parliament.

The ABC reports a group of police officers and soldiers stormed into Sir Salamo Injia's courtroom on Thursday led by deputy prime minister Beldan Namah.

They tried to arrest him while he was hearing a case, but Sir Salamo fled to a separate room in the chambers and locked himself in.

After more than two hours of negotiations, police escorted him to a courtroom for a formal interview. He was then charged with sedition and released on bail.

Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga says the incident follows a complaint made by the Prime Minister.