Police in Papua New Guinea stormed the Supreme Court in the capital and arrested the nation’s top judge on sedition charges on Thursday, in response to its ruling that the prime minister held power illegally and should step down. On the day nominations closed for June elections, police arrested Chief Justice Salamo Injia after the court ruled former leader Michael Somare should be reinstated as prime minister. Somare and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill have been jostling for power since August 2011, when O’Neill took office after Somare was ruled ineligible to be a lawmaker after a prolonged absence from parliament due to illness. But the Supreme Court in December ruled Somare should be reinstated, and in another ruling this week the court said Somare should be the caretaker prime minister during the current election period.
Papua New Guinea’s government will not try to defer national elections due in June, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says, potentially closing the lid on calls from his deputy to suspend the poll. PNG’s parliament last month raised the idea of suspending the elections for up to 12 months so anti-fraud biometric voting systems could be installed, after it was revealed the electoral roll was only 60 per cent complete. Since then, Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah has been a vocal advocate of putting off the elections.