Former PNG Judge: O’Neill Acting ‘Out Of His Powers’

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Turmoil continues, social media abuzz with criticism of PM’s actions

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 19, 2014) – PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill has acted "out of his powers" in removing the deputy police commissioner Simon Kauba, a former national acting court judge has said.

Judge Nemo Yalo was speaking to Pacific Beat regarding the growing political turmoil in the country.

Mr O'Neill on Wednesday sacked Mr Kauba for "disobeying orders". The sacking followed comments from Mr Kauba in relation to an arrest warrant issued against Mr O'Neill.

Mr Yalo says the sackings are an "act of desperation" by the prime minister.

"It is the prime minister's prerogative to hire or decommission ministers," he said.

"[But] last night's sacking of the deputy police commissioner, Simon Kauba, who is the head of operations ... including allegations in relation to Mr Peter O'Neill. and it's not right, and it's outright acting outside of his parliament.

"Usually if there is insubordination or any disciplinary action, it is the Police Commissioner under the Police Act who would initiate police proceedings and the officer concerned would have his right to be heard."

Mr Yalo says prime minister O'Neill had promised the people of PNG that he would cooperate with the police if the need arose.

"He has said that no one is above the law...and now he playing a totally different tune," Mr Yalo said.

The latest developments follow the sacking of Attorney-General Kerenga Kua by Mr O'Neill earlier this week.

Late on Tuesday, it was announced Ano Pala had been appointed attorney general and minister for justice, replacing Mr Kua.

At a media conference in Port Moresby on Thursday, the country’s new police commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki, said he was still in charge and all the troops should be loyal to him.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the political situation in PNG is an internal matter.

Outrage on social media

There's been widespread expressions of outrage on social media about the disbanding of PNG anti-corruption body Taskforce Sweep, the sacking of its chief Sam Koim and the dismissal of attorney-general Kerenga Kua.

Papua New Guineans have posted on Facebook and Twitter in the thousands, decrying the moves by prime minister O'Neill.

Some have expressed support for the two sacked men and some are organising protests.

One of those who took to social media was writer Martyn Namorong.

Mr Naorong told Pacific Beat the prime minister has lost his credibility.

"I think whatever credibility the prime minister had in the public's eye with regards to fighting corruption just evaporated with his sacking of Sam Koim and the disbanding of the Taskforce Sweep," he said.

"The general mood is that the prime minister has to go but to say that everyone in the country wants him to go would be a fallacy."

Mr Naorong says although it is not definite, there was a "likelihood" the outrage on social media could translate into action on the streets.

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