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PNG’S SOMARE READY FOR TALKS WITH O’NEILL CAMP Willing to talk, but will not budge on constitutional issues

By Poreni Umau PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 1, 2012) – The Somare faction has indicated that it is ready for a round table talk with the O’Neill regime regarding the ongoing political wrangling since December 12, 2011.

This was revealed by Nuku MP Andrew Kumbakor at a press conference yesterday.

But, Mr. Kumbakor said that they will not compromise on the subject of constitution.

He said that the Somare side is prepared to go to negotiations but a proposition remains and that is to allow them to comply as per the Supreme Court Order on December 12, last year.

Mr. Kumbakor’s call comes after the PNG Council of Churches called on the two political parties to take their grudges to a round table discussion and sort the political mess and lay everything to rest.

Last week the members of the PNGCC, under the chairmanship of Moderator Samson Lowa have offered to facilitate a forum for a dialogue between both leaders Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Parliament elect Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to solve the issues amicably.

"We are ready to arrange the place and the facilitators for this dialogue if both agree," the PNGCC members said.

The PNGCC said that it spoke on behalf of the people of PNG raising concerns over the issue of the prime minister and the police commissioner, citing both matters have not been solved yet.

Also former PNG Defence Force Commander Major General Jerry Singirok Retired made the same call after the eight hour reign of retrenched Brigadier General Yaura Sasa who moved in with soldiers from the Taurama Barracks and held Defence Commander Francis Agwi and two other senior officers under house arrest.

Major-General retired, Singirok called for parliament to convene swiftly and resolve the issue of legitimacy of political leadership once and for all.

[PIR editor’s note: Sir Michael and his son, Arthur, both offered themselves up for arrest if there was sufficient evidence for crimes committed earlier in the week. Sir Michael said in a statement he was "prepared to go to jail for what I know is the right thing to do for this country... Come to my residence and hand me the arrest warrant."]

He said that the change must be done as soon as practical.

Wabag MP and former deputy prime minister Sam Abal also raised similar sentiments last week after the soldiers under the command of Mr. Sasa moved in took control of Murray Barracks.

Mr. Abal said that the churches call for a dialogue to begin where both sides can come together to resolve what is a political issue and not allow policemen and soldiers to solve it for them.

Both men said that there is an urgent need for both Sir Michael and Mr. O’Neill to come together and resolve the current situation where the military has stepped in.

Maj-Gen. Singirok said that the mutiny was a result of the political impasse between the O’Neill and Somare camps which has taken its ultimate toll.

Mr. Abal said that he gave up the Deputy Prime Ministers post to allow for such a deal to be made. The dialogue must start and not allow situation to go under," said Mr. Abal.

"The people of this country cannot allow or accept the impasse to continue. We have always had a Melanesian way of solving the most difficult conflicts such as Bougainville or internal situations and this can be done if both leaders agree to come to the table," Mr. Abal said.

"Situations such as this must quickly be brought under control and I call on our leaders to make a move for the nation.

"On one side it is felt that the Constitution is supreme and it has been broken continuously while on the other side they feel Parliament is supreme. "Looking at our system it may be that it is time after 36 years to review things. We need to reconcile and device a way through this but both sides have to humble ourselves and to come to the table. We must give and take," Mr. Abal said.

Mr. Singirok added that the situation is totally out of control and has to be resolved politically within 24 hours or else we lose the nation as all the signs of a failed state are evident.

He said that the whole situation would not occur if both parties had exercised restraint and taken political ownership of aspects of good governance and used due processes of relevant legislation.

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