O’Neill: I’m in control

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 19th December 2011

THE O’Neill-Namah group manipulated itself over the weekend into positions where it appeared back in charge again.
The group already has total control of Parliament House and, last Friday and over the weekend, its members reoccupied the prime minister’s office and cabinet at Morauta House.
It is understood that they replaced cabinet secretary Manly Ua with former parliamentarian, Chris Haiveta, sacked the first legislative counsel Hudson Ramatlap and replaced him with deputy Vele Konivaro.
They had also retaken the Finance and Treasury offices at Vulupindi Haus and the Government Printer and all other government institutions, Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill said last night.
But outright legitimacy cannot be established while the court-declared Sir Michael Somare group still maintained it was the rightful government, even with fewer than 30 MPs in its camp.
The Somare faction offered the olive branch last Friday when Sir Michael said he was willing to speak with O’Neill to bring an end to the week-long stand-off between the two groups. However, O’Neill rejected the gesture last night, instead inviting the group to parliament to discuss whatever was on their minds.
In other developments since last Friday:
qThe police Armed Robbery Response Unit was stood down and its members returned vehicles and arms on orders;
qO’Neill declared the week-long political crisis over and invited the Somare camp, minus Sir Michael, back to parliament to debate legislation to enable more women to run for parliament next year as well as to debate the budget;
qThe O’Neill faction took over the Morauta House where a National Executive Council meeting was conducted;
qThe meeting revoked the call-out order by Sir Michael for the PNG Defence Force to help police address law and order problems in Port Moresby and to provide security and protection of key government institutions and also revoked a K30 million allocation to fund the call-out;
qWabag MP Sam Abal put his job (as deputy prime minister in Somare’s cabinet) on the line in a bid to end the current political turmoil;
qFred Yakasa, the Somare-led government’s acting police commissioner, has obtained a restraining order to stop his imminent arrest by rival Tom Kulunga; and
qKulunga has appointed Assistant Commissioner Thomas Eluh to investigate the involvement of police personnel deployed at Government House at the height of the stand-off to establish whether the actions taken by police were lawful, criminal in nature or mutinous.
Kulunga said the investigation was critical because it
would ensure police functions were protected, preserved
and uncompromised.
While reiterating that normalcy had been restored, O’Neill said: “Let us get something straight. The people must know that parliament has accepted the court decision and its orders, has noted it and has dealt with it.
“Parliament’s own decisions of Dec 9 and Dec 12 had caused a vacancy in the post of prime minister even after the court had restored Sir Michael.
“An election took place after the vacancy had occurred. We have gone past the court decision. We are now in a new phase of parliament. The court decision has no relevance is so far as these new decisions of parliament are concerned.”