PNG DEFENSE FORCE COMMANDER ILAU SIGNS OK FOR PROSECUTION OF MUTINEERS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 30, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea Defense Force Commander Peter Ilau has confirmed the prosecution of soldiers involved in the Moem Barracks mutiny is ready to proceed.

Brigadier General Ilau said he has signed a letter granting powers to legal officers to start the action.

The team looking into this is already in Wewak investigating the burning of buildings, seizure of the armory and vehicles, and chasing out of officers.

The 68 grenades that were missing have all been recovered and returned to the armory, the commander said.

The stock take is continuing. While 120 weapons remain missing they will all be recovered, as most of their whereabouts are known, he said.

However, there are public fears some weapons may not be recovered, as they may already have been smuggled out of the province.

The barracks were retaken and almost all mutineers arrested in a daylight raid by loyal soldiers while most of the rebel soldiers were sleeping. The mutineers had been up all night on the alert after being led to believe there would be an attempt to retake the camp during the night.

The mutineers had originally said they were protesting over the handling of the retrenchment of soldiers as part of the restructuring and downsizing of the Defense Force.

But they increased their list of demands as the standoff continued.

 

WILD SCENES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA PARLIAMENT

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 31, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Pre-election tension spilled over in Papua New Guinea's Parliament with National Capital District MP and former Prime Minister Bill Skate abusing government members.

In raucous scenes in the countdown to campaigning for the June general elections, Mr Skate:

§ Declared an all-out war via the electoral process to see Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta ousted from his Moresby North-West seat.

§ Called out to Lady Carol Kidu that he would ensure she lost her Moresby South seat -- a move that had Lady Kidu distressed and lobbying successfully for the chair to make Mr Skate withdraw his comment.

§ Questioned Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Moi Avei's knighthood and said he had the man to defeat Sir Moi.

The flare up was sparked by Sir Mekere’s response to an Opposition question about the economic state of Papua New Guinea and the struggling kina.

Sir Mekere started his response by pointing out the parlous state of finances when he took over following Mr. Skate’s resignation in July 1999.

Mr. Skate became furious.

"You know why this prime minister always speaks (about) Bill Skate? Because he can’t sleep," yelled Mr. Skate, pointing at Sir Mekere.

"I tell you, Papua New Guinea doesn’t believe in you!"

At this point the packed public gallery erupted into applause, spurring Mr. Skate on.

"We’re gunna fight. I’ll fix you," he screamed at Sir Mekere. "You come over here and I’ll f...... belt you."

Outside Parliament, Mr. Skate said: "Everything I’ve said on the floor of Parliament I meant from my heart. I’ve declared war on Mekere Morauta.

"My people have suffered enough at the hands of this man and I will make it my sole duty to campaign vigorously when the time is right to ensure he is not returned through the ballot process.

"The small people cannot afford a decent meal, our roads and infrastructure are at a state of no repair, health services are non-existent and the list goes on all because of this man’s poor management."

He said people cannot even afford tinned fish and rice and many lived on rice and noodles.

"If he cannot take responsibility for all the problems faced today, then he is not worth remaining as a leader," said Mr. Skate.

Writs for the elections are due to be issued on Thursday, with nominations to contest the 20 provincial and 89 open seats closing a week later.

Voting is June 15-29.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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