A group of soldiers led by a retired colonel says it has arrested the head of Papua New Guinea’s armed forces and has taken control of the army.
Colonel Yaura Sasa is a former defence attaché to Indonesia. He insists it is not a coup, and that he and his men want the reinstatement of former prime minister Sir Michael Somare.
“Both Sir Michael Somare and (acting prime minister Peter) O’Neill have seven days to implement the Supreme Court’s orders to resolve the current political impasse or I will be forced to take actions to uphold the integrity of the constitution,” said Sasa.
The country has been in a political vacuum since August, when parliament declared the prime minister’s job vacant after Somare had been in Singapore for five months for medical treatment.
It voted in Peter O’Neill, but in December the Supreme Court ruled this illegal and demanded Somare be restored to office. O’Neill refuses to go.
Last week Sir Michael made an angry visit to parliament and tried to confront O’Neill. He was ejected.