Ex-soldier behind Papua New Guinea mutiny arrested

A retired colonel who attempted to take over Papua New Guinea's military and ordered the prime minister to step down has been arrested and charged with mutiny.

Police spokesman Dominic Kakas said Yaura Sasa was arrested Saturday night in a suburb of Port Moresby, the capital. A court spokesman said Sasa was charged with mutiny and appeared in court Sunday.

Sasa led a small group of soldiers in a mutiny Thursday in which the military's top commander was briefly held under house arrest. The mutiny was part of a power struggle in which Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and former Prime Minister Michael Somare claim to be the rightful leader of the South Pacific nation.

Sasa demanded that O'Neill step down within a week to make way for Somare, who appointed Sasa defense chief after being removed from office.

Kakas said the soldiers who followed Sasa had not been arrested.

Parliament replaced Somare with O'Neill in August while Somare was getting medical treatment outside the country. Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court sided with Somare last month, but O'Neill continues to have support from lawmakers.

Somare issued a statement Sunday repeating his call to be reinstated, and calling on police and the military to join him.

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