28 Jan 2012

Somare camp maintains Sasa is commander of PNG defence force

7:14 am on 28 January 2012

The Somare regime insists that Colonel Yaura Sasa is still legitimate commander of Papua New Guinea's Defence Force.

Colonel Yaura Sasa and up to 20 soldiers loyal to him put Brigadier-General Francis Agwi under house arrest on Thusday in a move linked to the power struggle between two political camps claiming to be PNG's government.

Colonel Sasa claimed to have been appointed Commander by the government of Sir Michael Somare whose ousting as Prime Minister last year was ruled to have been unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in December.

However Brigadier Agwi has now been freed and the Peter O'Neill government says that police and defence personnel are in the process of apprehending those who conducted the mutiny.

Somare's Defence Minister Andrew Kumbakor remains adamant that Yaura Sasa is the Commander:

"So we have now here in PNG, two Prime Ministers, two police commissioners, we've got two department of finance secretaries, we've got two commanders of the army, so it's a question of who is stronger. But at the end of the day, it will be the court to say which it the right person to take that office. We as the government, we have made a decision, our government, our decisions are legitimate."