I doubt that there’s a person in the history of Papua New Guinea who has been able to avoid the law with alacrity of the current Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.
With his name on an arrest warrant and a number of successful court stay orders, Mr O’Neill has been able to sidestep his appointment with detectives for some two years.
But with the court turning down his latest bid to stay his warrant of arrest, how long can the cat and mouse game continue, wasting limited resources and tearing apart more state institutions, questioning and undermining their authority.
Yesterday’s suspension fraud directorate chief Mathew Damaru, who had been tipped as poised to arrest Mr O’Neill, was just the latest move in this long-running saga.
The law is taking a long time to catch up with PNG’s seventh prime minister to give him the opportunity to show he is innocent.
PNG has a robust and independent judiciary which remains one of the country’s last hopes for the dispensation of justice when corruption is rampant across all state institutions.
We are not at war. This country is not under siege. The police fraud squad is only doing its job. The judiciary is only performing its duty.
But heavily guarded by armed security forces, the prime minister seems afraid of the laws of the very country which he leads.
Papua New Guinea’s institutions must remain strong to hold the country together as a vibrant democracy. In the end they must prevail to fulfill this purpose. But at present they are under great pressure.
This country must be bigger than any person, tribe, province, region or group that wishes to hold her to ransom against the wishes of the people.
Police Commissioner Gary Baki is making the greatest mistake in his life trying to protect the prime minister. He won’t succeed in holding out against a nation which wants nothing but for the prime minister to prove his innocence in a competent court of law. There is no other way for the prime minister to free himself of allegations.
In my view, Peter O’Neill should step down now and prove his innocence in court. He has been maintaining his innocence so far, so there should be nothing for him to fear.
He has a moral and constitutional obligation to his office, to the country and to the people to lead with dignity and to do the honourable and right thing. In the current circumstances, it is to step down.