The National, Wednesday 01st Febuary 2012
SIR Michael Somare and his politician son Arthur Somare have offered themselves to be arrested – if police have any criminal evidence against them.
Both father and son, caught in a seemingly immoveable political tug-of-war with Peter O’Neill over which side has legitimate government, made the offer following rumours that both were being implicated in the failed military mutiny last week.
Other MPs in their camp were also being sought by police to explain their roles in last Thursday’s short-lived attempt by a retrenched colonel and a group of renegade soldiers to take over the command of the PNG Defence Force.
Sir Michael, who claims his legitimacy from the Dec 12 Supreme Court decision, called on the O’Neill-led regime to “drop the charade and uphold the Constitution” – or make arrests if police held evidence of a criminal nature against them.
Arthur Somare fronted up at the police headquarters in Konedobu yesterday morning and waited a full hour to see Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga to offer himself for questioning and possible arrest.
In response, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said there was a normal police investigation under way to identify collaborators in the botched take-over attempt.
O’Neill claimed his legitimacy to government was from having been elected unchallenged by parliament after the Supreme Court decision.
He enjoys a three-quarter majority support of MPs in parliament and the avowed support of the public service heads including the police and defense forces.
Said O’Neill in a statement: “The crime (what happened at Murray Barracks) is serious in nature and police will get to the bottom of it. If there is evidence that Sir Michael Somare, or Arthur Somare, or Andrew Kumbakor was involved, they will be subjected to the full force of the law.
“Let me reiterate here that no one is above the law. The rule of law applies to everyone, regardless of your status in society.
“It is utter nonsense for Somare to suggest that myself, or Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah is pushing and intimidating police to arrest him. We respect the police and the work they do.
“Unlike Somare and his camp, we do not intimidate, interfere with, or lure members of the disciplined forces to go outside their line of duty, or break the law.”
But Sir Michael said in his statement: “I am prepared to go to jail for what I know is the right thing to do for this country. This reign of terror and hunt for members of parliament by the regime must stop immediately.
“If the pressure is still on for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to go ahead with these arrests, I call on O’Neill and Namah to do it themselves. Come to my residence and hand me the arrest warrant.”
Sir Michael wanted to know if the police were taking orders from their commissioner or from O’Neill and Namah.
“It would be in the public’s interest to know if O’Neill’s purported Police Minister John Boito, or his deputy Belden Namah is pressuring police to carry out illegal arrests,’’ he said.
“People of Papua New Guinea should not be frightened into submission by rogue members of parliament who do not know the meaning of democracy or the processes of governance. This scare-mongering has gone on for far too long.
“I have taken enough insult from an insolent character and first time Member of Parliament – Belden Namah.
“Papua New Guinea can see the true nature of Belden Namah so I only need to say that for many people his behavior is both an embarrassment and frightful.
“Belden Namah wants to be the dictator of Papua New Guinea and Peter O’Neill is helping him. O’Neill cannot distance himself by remaining silent.”