PNG police appeal to three MPs to go in for questioning
WANTED: (L-R) Former PNG ministers Paul Tiensten and Francis Potape and East Sepik governor Peter Wararu.
Papua New Guinea police have appealed to three national parliamentarians to voluntarily go in for questioning.
PNG police commissioner Michael Wagambie said police investigators wanted MPs Paul Tiensten, Francis Potape and Peter Wararu to assist them with a number of their investigations.
“Although not required by law, we have accorded them that respect due to their status as national leaders and written to them to make themselves available at the various police stations for interviews regarding a number of ongoing police investigations,” he said.
He added that police will not hesitate to use “other direct measures” if the MPs failed to go in for questioning.
“They have, however, frustrated the process by not turning up as requested on a number of occasions so I am appealing to them as leaders to come in and help police with our investigations. Their continuous failure to attend the interviews may force us to employ other direct measures. I sincerely hope it does not come to that.”
The top cop did not give details on the investigations but it is believed they could be related to corruption allegations that the O’Neill government asked police look into at the Department of National Planning and Monitoring.
Mr Tiensten and Mr Potape were ministers in the toppled Somare government while Mr Wararu is the governor of East Sepik province. Coincidentally the East Sepik provincial executive council, which Mr Wararu chairs, filed a Supreme Court reference last month questioning the legality of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s election.
The appeal to the three MPs marks another twist in the political drama which has gripped the PNG capital Port Moresby, following Mr O’Neill’s snap election as the country’s seventh PM on August 2.
Mr Wagambie denied the investigations were politically motivated, saying: “I state for the record that this is not a political move but a normal police matter. We did not conjure up these investigations overnight. Complaints were made. Police investigations have been underway for quite some time and the three leaders are now required to shed some light on a number of areas which they may have some knowledge of.”
Local media recently reported Mr Tiensten, the former minister for national planning and monitoring in the Somare government, fled to Australia to allegedly avoid questioning over his role in the disbursement of K10 million (A$3 million) in public funds to a local businessman.