PNG Crisis – Churches call on leaders to talk

Papua New Guinea church leaders called on Thursday for a “grand coalition” to end the PNG crisis.

Such a coalition would be a “Melanesian way” of solving what appears to be an intractable crisis with both Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his opponent Peter O’Neill refusing to back down.

“If they are to release the tension they must come together and either form a grand coalition or negotiate a solution. The Melanesian way is to sit down and work out your differences,” said Port Moresby’s Catholic Archbishop John Ribat.

“If this situation is prolonged I believe we will not avoid it (violence). There are some opportunists out there that want to capitalise on the situation,” Ribat told Reuters.

Church leaders from a number of other denominations have united to call for an end to the tensions. They want the two sides to put aside their differences and form a government of national unity.

Anglican archbishop, Peter Ramsten, says churches will help to facilitate a meeting between the two men.

Paster Joseph Walters form the Assembiles Of God said the best christmas present for Papua New Guineans would be peace and good will.

But Radio Australia PNG correspondent Liam Fox has reported on twitter that Mr O’Neill has rejected the churches call for unity, saying Mr Somare is no longer an MP.

Paul Barker of the Institute of National Affairs (INA) has also suggested that a solution to the PNG Crisis could be found by agreeing on “some sort of caretaker unity government until the elections.”

“I mean the elections are just around the corner. The priority should be to try and prepare for the elections and give the voters an opportunity to make their own selection”. he said

Barker said he had been told the O’Neill faction was willing to engage and compromise, but the Somare side was less enthusiastic.

The two rival attorneys-general have agreed to meet to try to resolve the PNG crisis.

INA is a privately funded, non-profit policy research institute, or “think tank” based in Port Moresby.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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