Friday, May 25, 2012

PNG police, army leave parliament area


A blockade at Papua New Guinea's Parliament House has ended after a rogue group of about 30 police officers blockaded the road to Parliament House with rocks this morning and told AAP they were refusing to let the government of Peter O'Neill hold a special sitting of parliament.
The men cleared out after speaking with Assistant Police Commissioner Francis Tokura.
"The last thing we wanted was to see bloodshed among our own men," Mr Tokura said.
 "We are very grateful we were able to sort it without bloodshed.
"The only important thing that was expressed by the men at Parliament House is they want an election for PNG."
Mr Tokura said he shared their view that getting PNG to the June poll was of extreme importance.
In what is becoming almost standard practice in Port Moresby, the unexpected blockade briefly flashed white hot when more than 40 heavily armed police set up a staging area around the corner from the splinter group.
After about 20 minutes, however, an officer was heard to shout "saddle up, we're out of here" before the armed officers left in a convoy of 15 cars.
About 30 minutes later, the roadblock outside parliament was lifted.
AAP understands members of parliament are now entering the building, where a special sitting is expected to be held so MPs can deal with a controversial court decision reappointing ousted PM Sir Michael Somare to the top job.
The incident was sparked after police, led by Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, arrested and charged the nation's chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, with sedition on Thursday.
At a brief committal hearing in court on Friday, Sir Salamo sat silent as the charges against him were read out.
Magistrate Cosmos Bidar charged that Sir Salamo and another judge, Nicholas Kirriwom, conspired "to conduct a seditious enterprise against the state".
Sir Salamo was one of three judges who on Monday ruled ousted leader Sir Michael was the nation's legitimate prime minister and not Mr O'Neill, who was elected PM by a parliamentary majority last year.
Mr O'Neill's government alleges the court is biased and is trying to interfere with the upcoming June elections.
Last week, an email exchange allegedly between Sir Salamo and Justice Kirriwom referred to the O'Neill government as "illegal".
The emails were sent in February, while the pair were conducting hearings into the government's legitimacy.
Hearing of the case against Sir Salamo was adjourned to July 25.
Meanwhile, Sir Michael has issued a statement saying he has begun campaigning on behalf of his National Alliance party. However, it is unclear if the 76-year-old will stand for re election.
The PNG Electoral Commission has told AAP ballot boxes sent from China have been delivered to Port Moresby

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