By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill, shaken by last Thursday's mutiny by rebel troops, will move to dissolve parliament next month and go to early polls to end the current political impasse, The National reported last Friday.
He said he would seek his government’s blessing to bring forward the scheduled June general election.
O’Neill said this after announcing that the day-long mutiny by the 30 rebels, led by retrenched colonel Yaura Sasa, at Murray Barracks headquarters, was over.
Fifteen of the soldiers have been arrested and Sasa was being “dealt with” but O’Neill declined to clarify what this meant .
O’Neill said he would ask his government during the February session of parliament whether they should pursue the option of an early election.
“We are looking at going for early election as quickly as possible to end this political impasse and we hope the Electoral Commission is ready for early elections,” he said.
O’Neill said this last Thursday when he accused the Somare camp of inciting mutiny at the Murray Barracks and trying to illegally take over the Papua New Guinea defence force
“The dramatic situation at the Murray barracks yesterday morning demonstrates the desperate length Somare can go to wrestle government,’’ O’Neill said.
“Somare tried to cleverly manipulate an internal issue in the force to his advantage, to use the military to take government by force.”
O’Neill late last Thursday commended senior military officers for restoring control at Murray Barracks and thanked the public for showing restraint despite the drama.
O’Neill said issues relating to the soldiers’ grievances would be addressed - including ending the political uncertainty by dissolving parliament.
In a dramatic turn of events at Murray barracks last Thursday, a group of soldiers led by retrenched PNGDF Col Yaura Sasa detained Commander Francis Agwi at his residence.
“Yesterday (Thursday)morning, a group of soldiers illegally and unlawfully placed PNGDF Commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi under house arrest and tried to take control of the country’s defence force,” O’Neill said.
“Without any lawful authority, retrenched Sasa declared himself the commander, held a press conference and made political statements he had no authority to make.”
O’Neill said retrenched Sasa was not appointed by the government to replace Agwi.
“He has no legal and valid instrument to back his claim that he is the commander. He is a civilian who was misled by the Somare camp to carry out an illegal and unlawful act.
“The action by Sasa has no support of the rank and file of the PNG Defence Force. His attempt to take over the force has now been neutralised, and normalcy has been restored at Murray barracks.
“By his public statement, it is clear Sasa was used to stage this illegal act to call for the implementation of the Supreme Court decision. He has no authority to make this statement, He is a civilian who is not supposed to be at the barracks at all.
“As we are all aware, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on Dec 12.”
He said parliament took note of the decision and disposed of it by making a number of legislative changes and decisions, one of which was to reaffirm him as prime minister.
O’Neill said the Supreme Court decision, and the decision of parliament, were now the subject of various court proceedings before the National and Supreme Court.
He said the proceedings were initiated by both sides and awaiting the outcome of these proceedings.
“But what we have witnessed is a desperate attempt by Somare to trample on proper and legal processes to get into government,” he said.
O’Neill said Sir Michael had been looked after by the country for 45 years and he owed it to the seven million people of PNG.
“Sir Michael as the founding father of this nation should not be creating uncertainty,” he said.
O’Neill said those responsible for the drama at Murray barracks would be dealt with - including Sir Michael and those supporting him.