4 Jul 2008

Opposition says Somare leads PNG Zimbabwe's way

2:19 pm on 4 July 2008

The Papua New Guinea opposition leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, says the country will become like strife-torn Zimbabwe if the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, continues to intimidate and threaten the nation's watchdogs.

Yesterday, Sir Michael used parliamentary privilege to attack the recently retired Ombudsman Commission chief, Ila Geno, for initiating an inquiry into his personal finances.

Mr Geno has called into question Sir Michael's alleged failure to file financial returns dating back about 20 years.

Last month, he lost a court bid to stop the inquiry from proceeding, but has launched an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Sir Mekere says the Prime Minister is taking the country in a dangerous direction and says with the matter before the courts, it should not have been raised in Parliament.

He compared the attack on public institutions with the action of Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe.

Our correspondent in PNG, Oseah Philemon, says people have found the latest actions of the Prime Minister, unbelievable.

He says Sir Michael's action are unprecedented.

"This is a very sad day for Papua New Guinea that the man considered the Father of the Nation should be behaving publicly in this kind of manner. We have a very serious problem of lack of respect for law and order in this country and this sort of action sends the very wrong signal to the ordinary Papua New Guineans, who might say, if the Prime Minister can do it, so can we."

Oseah Philemon