Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Coup rumour dispelled


THE police and military hierarchy yesterday dispelled the rumour of a military coup against the one-week-old government of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, The National reports.
In separate statements, Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie and Papua New Guinea Defence Force commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi said they were loyal to the government and processes of democracy and the change in the government "will not affect the work of police and defence".
Their call came after text messages yesterday about a military coup circulated widely, frightening people and business houses. The text message said the instability caused by the new government had forced the military to overthrow the government.
It urged Papua New Guineans to support the coup.
However, Agwi countered with the statement: "I assure the government and people of PNG that no force under my command will ever be less than totally loyal to the constitution, and to the authority of the government."
He said he had talked with Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah and Defence Minister Guma Wau and assured them of his support and loyalty.
Agwi said he had heard of the rumour which was "without foundation, malicious and mischievous".    
Wagambie, on the other hand, said a coup "is nonsense and will never happen".
"I want to assure the government, investors and grassroots that there will be no coup – and I guarantee that," Wagambie said. 
"If there are people trying to create something then the police will deal with them in the appropriate manner," he said.
The top cop said spreading false rumours amounted to treason and was punishable by law under the Summary Offences Act.
"In some other countries, spreading such rumours will result in the person facing the firing squad," Wagambie said.
He said police were gathering information to ascertain where, how and why the rumour was started.
He said he had already instructed his men to trace the person or group responsible for spreading the rumour and arrest them.
Internal Security Minister John Boito condemned the rumour, saying it was the work of people who wanted to cause panic among Papua New Guineans.
He said parliament was intact and would meet as normal today

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