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‘Military should never be involved in civilian government’

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 31, 2012) - Papua New Guinea (PNG) is moving towards dangerous grounds in the wake of a politically motivated mutiny in the military barracks, last week.

This is the view of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi who is being briefed regularly on political developments in Port Moresby and the Pacific in general.

"Once the military gets involved in civilian government, a whole new element, a whole new dimension is introduced," Prime Minister Tuilaepa said. "It’s the reason why we have always opposed the military government in Fiji. Its impact can be dangerously contagious.

"The military should never be involved in civilian government. They are not trained nor qualified to take over civilian governance and deal with civilian issues. "If Papua New Guinea is not careful, I see them going down the same road as Fiji.

And the image of the Pacific Islands and our part of the world as a peaceful region is perpetually destroyed by selfish and ambitious trigger-happy thugs in control of our military institutions."

On accusations and counter-accusations of unauthorized spending by both the Sir Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill governments, Tuilaepa said;

"Budgets are debated and approved by Parliament. Moreover, Parliament must approve and ratify every single cent spent by the Executive branch. "The key is to present all spending on the table, disclosed to the Opposition, the public and the media.

"If government is able to defend its spending and have it legislated then issues are never raised. The supremacy of Parliament - which represents the power of the people in any Parliamentary democracy – to make and unmake laws must never, never be compromised."

On the political stalemate with two governments in power in Papua New Guinea, Tuilaepa said, "I cannot speak for both the Somare and O’Neill governments but, the hardest thing for any career political leader is realizing when to let go honourably.

"Leaders have to realize that they’re only there through a mandate from the people.

At the end of the day, government must move on and no one is indispensable."

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi remains the longest serving leader in the region.

His Human Rights Protection Party swept into power again last March for another five-year term capturing a two-thirds majority in the House.

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