27 Jan 2012

PNG PM says failed mutiny makes country 'a joke'

9:55 pm on 27 January 2012

Papua New Guinea's prime minister Peter O'Neill says the failed mutiny on Thursday has turned the country into a joke.

The mutineers, led by retired Colonel Yauru Sasa, took captive the commander of the defence force, Brigadier General Francis Agwi when they stormed several barracks in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The Brigadier has now been released, but soldiers involved in the revolt are refusing to give up their weapons until they are pardoned and are being held at Tarama Barracks on the outskirts of the capital, Port Moresby.

Colonel Sasa is also believed to have taken refuge in the officers' mess at the barracks.

The ABC says the ongoing tension comes amid questions about the role in the events of former prime minister Sir Michael Somare. Despite a Supreme Court ruling ordering Sir Michael's reinstatement, Mr O'Neill remains the effective prime minister.

Mr O'Neill says the attempted mutiny was a desperate act and Papua New Guinea deserved better from Sir Michael.

He says Sir Michael should use the parliamentary process to sort out leadership concerns rather than supporting a mutiny.