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Jerry Singirok was the commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force throughout the Sandline affair of 1997.
1 Military career
2 Sandline affair
3 Dismissal and subsequent inquiry
Singirok was a career soldier who had risen through the ranks of the PNGDF, including a time as commander of the forces on Bougainville. In the mid-1990s, he was promoted to Brigadier-General, and given the position of commander.
Then, in 1996, Tim Spicer, an ex-Colonel in the Scots Guards, who had recently founded the mercenary firm Sandline International, met with Singirok. Spicer attempted to persuade Singirok to support a package of military support that Spicer had negotiated with then-defence minister Mathias Ijape. Singirok declined, but the deal went ahead anyway, with the support of Ijape, Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Haiveta.
It is unclear just how much Singirok knew of the events in between that meeting and the leaking of the affair to the international media on 10 February 1997. When the story broke in The Australian newspaper, Singirok was in the Philippines, and the mercenaries were already in Port Moresby. When he returned on 27 February, his mind was made up. He condemned the government for leaving him, as head of the PNGDF, out of the loop, and condemned Spicer for having more access to the government than he did. Over the next week, he made plans for Operation Rausim Kwik (pidgin for ‘get rid of them fast’). On 8 March, he asked Major Walter Enuma to command the operation. Enuma agreed.
Main article: Sandline affair
On the night of 16 March, Singirok’s soldiers swooped. They arrested Spicer, the mercenaries, and their support staff. The next morning, Singirok went on national radio, and accused Prime Minister Chan, Defence Minister Ijape, and Deputy Prime Minister Haiveta of corruption, and gave them 48 hours to resign. He also fiercely denied allegations that he was aiming to take power himself. Chan refused to resign, and the same day, sacked Singirok as Commander of the PNGDF, replacing him with the c