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War of words between PNG’s PM and predecessors

Tuesday 26 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A war of words is continuing between Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Peter O’Neill and his two predecessors over his refusal to stand aside over fraud claims.

Last week, Sir Mekere Morauta and Sir Michael Somare issued media statements after the police commissioner moved to suspend leading members of the fraud squad for probing O’Neill’s role in alleged illegal state payments to a law firm.

This followed several high-profile arrests in relation
to the case, including the attorney-general and a Supreme Court judge.

Sir Mekere has warned about damage being incurred to the integrity of the Office of the Prime Minister by O’Neill not allowing himself to be questioned by police over the case.

Sir Michael also called for the prime minister to surrender, calling out O’Neill for what he said were naked attempts to prevent investigation of corruption and illegal acts.

He also urged all sitting MPs not to remain silent about the case.

However, O’Neill insists he is innocent and says the two former prime ministers should wait until the court process around the case has played out.

O’Neill has labelled them hypocrites, saying that unlike him, Sir Michael has personally benefitted from misuse of public funds.

He accuses Sir Mekere, in his capacity as chairman of the Sustainable Development Programme (SDP), of neglecting the people of Western Province.

O’Neill has been in a dispute with Sir Mekere since 2013 when his government expropriated Ok Tedi Mining Ltd from the SDP. - ABC