1 Oct 2007

Alert in PNG over rumours of planned Somare arrest

2:40 pm on 1 October 2007

There are reports from Papua New Guinea that police are on full alert amid rumours that disgruntled soldiers plan to arrest the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare over the Moti Affair.

Sir Michael is expected back in the country today after attending the United Nations.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that the National Security Advisory Committee met over the weekend to discuss the threat but is unable to identify the soldiers behind the plot.

The paper says the Police Commissioner Gari Baki has confirmed police are on full alert and treating the rumours seriously.

Stories that PNGDF soldiers would try and arrest the Prime Minister and have him charged with treason - over his alleged role in helping the Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti escape extradition - have been circulating in Port Moresby over the last two weeks.

The opposition and civil society organisations have appealed to the Prime Minister to step aside after he made an unsuccessful attempt in the National Court recently to quash the proceedings of a PNGDF board of inquiry into Mr Moti's clandestine flight out of the country.

The army inquiry's report incriminated Sir Michael, senior bureaucrats and highly-ranked soldiers over their alleged role in Mr Moti's escape.