Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says recent calls by former prime minister and the country’s founding leader Sir Michael Somare to leave office are “self-serving” from a person who has been “hell-bent” on removing his government since Somare lost power in 2011.
“While these matters [corruption allegations] are before the courts, he has to respect that no person is guilty until proven so in a court of law based on compelling evidence,” he said.
“I have always stated – show evidence of me benefiting financially or otherwise and I will resign.
“I would never do so because Somare or [another former PM, Sir Mekere] Morauta think I should, their motive is simply sour grapes.”
Somare said that O’Neill, whose arrest had been sought in relation to a major fraud investigation for two years, should respect the Office of the Prime Minister and surrender so police could carry out their duties without obstruction.
O’Neill has fended off the investigation and arrest attempts through legal challenges.
The Prime Minister said that if his former PM criitics thought they had support, they should both combine and “face us at the elections”.
“But from recent memory when the people voted, Morauta lost badly in 2002 and Somare lost badly in 2012,” O’Neill said.
Looking at the issues he had raised, it was a fact that “I did not receive money in my bank account like Somare has”.
Somare needed to explain why PNG government money from the community college fund ended up in his personal account number in Singapore, claimed O’Neill.
His son and him had benefited directly while PNG was left with incomplete community colleges and with millions of US dollars in loans taken out for this project, while Somare got millions of dollars in his pocket, alleged O’Neill.
This matter was being pursued by the Singapore public prosecutor with Somare’s Singapore partners.
If anyone should resign, Somare should resign and he should be charged, alleged O’Neill.
“It is all very well to point fingers, but people must only do so with clean hands,” he said.
“The same goes for Sir Mekere Morauta.
“While our people in Western Province are dying, he continues to keep their funds parked in the SDP fund in Singapore.
“It is the people’s money that pays exorbitant fees to Morauta and his consultants, and for them to travel first class around the world.
“This is money that belongs to the people of Western Province and should be given to them to use for their own community benefit, but while Morauta splurges their money they continue to suffer.
“This is a fact that was confirmed by courts in Singapore recently.
“What a load of first-class hypocrisy we see from Somare and Morauta – they should hide their heads in shame,” O’Neill added.