Military crisis ends in Papua New Guinea
Defense chief fired after peaceful revolt
March 18, 1997
Web posted at: 3:08 p.m. EST (2008 GMT)
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (CNN) -- Papua New Guinea
Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan said Tuesday that he had
quashed an attempted coup against his government, and
threatened to arrest the military chief who challenged his
"The government is in absolute, complete control of the
situation," Chan said. "The institution of democracy is alive
and well in Papua New Guinea."
Defense Force commander Brigadier General Jerry Singirok on
Monday had demanded Chan's resignation. Singirok objected to
Chan's use of mercenary soldiers to quell a secessionist
rebellion on the island province of Bougainville.
Singirok had ordered his troops to detain the mercenaries and
stop cooperating with the government. But Chan fired Singirok
late Monday, and the Australian-trained general accepted his
dismissal Tuesday and called on his troops to remain calm.
The prime minister ordered the release of about 40
mercenaries, who were being held by government soldiers in a
remote camp where they had been training Papua New Guinea
troops. His plans to use the mercenaries against the rebels
on Bougainville would continue, he said.
Chan called Singirok's action one of the country's worst
political crises, and said the general was "guilty of gross
insubordination bordering on treason." Chan, who faces a
national election in June, also speculated that Singirok had
"a number of political agendas" in play.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the nine-year
revolt on Bougainville, which began as a protest against a
copper mine but escalated into a guerrilla war for secession.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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