Papua New Guinea's political stand-off briefly flashed white hot yesterday, as Peter O'Neill directed police to take control of government offices being used as a base by political rival Sir Michael Somare.
However the day ended with the 36-year old nation returning to a political deadlock, with police seemingly ignoring the order while maintaining a strong presence on the streets of the capital, Port Moresby.
Early in the afternoon, Mr O'Neill said he would send in as many as 200 police to take control of government offices, where Sir Michael has been holed up since Tuesday, the day after the nation's Supreme court ordered that he and his minority government be returned to power.
Mr O'Neill said the police had been ordered to seize the prime minister's department, Government House and finance department on Thursday.
With the backing of his cabinet, Mr O'Neill has declared he is in control of the PNG government, and has shown reporters a gazetted government document that says he is the country's prime minister.
Meanwhile, staff at the government printing offices in Port Moresby told reporters that 20-30 armed police officers were guarding the facility.
A spokesperson for Mr O'Neill's rival, Sir Michael Somare, told AAP the gazette was not genuine.
Papua New Guinea was thrown into crisis on Monday, when the Supreme Court declared Mr O'Neill's government unconstitutional and returned Sir Michael and his minority government to power.
The majority of the nation's parliamentarians support Mr O'Neill for the top job, and have repeatedly voted him back in, but neither he nor Sir Michael have backed down and both maintain they are in charge.
Mr O'Neill told reporters on Thursday he had revoked a late night order by Sir Michael to reinstate his police commissioner Fred Yakasa.
"There are elements in Port Moresby police who have sided with court ordered group [Sir Michael] and we've had to bring in additional policing personnel from outside Port Moresby to restore possession of government assets so the public service can continue to function," he said.
"These are the houses that police forcibly moved personnel into. We don't do that in this country,"
He said he was not ordering the arrest of Sir Michael or his ministers.
"I have no authority... to issue arrest warrants," he said.
"(Somare and his supporters) are totally within their rights... to express their views.
"But the police have got to do their duty."
Sir Michael had been due to hold a press conference at government headquarters at Marauta Haus on Thursday morning, but it was deferred until later in the afternoon and then cancelled without explanation.
Sir Michael's daughter, Betha Somare, says the man known as the Grand Chief was never supposed to appear at a media event, despite a series of texts confirming his presence from government press officers.
Somare's police commissioner, Fred Yakasa, said at a press conference the police force is unified and defended the actions of officers loyal to him who tried to stop Mr O'Neill from approaching Government House on Tuesday.
"All sides deserve some sort of security," he said.
"We were stopping those who have not been invited.
O'Neill's police commissioner, Tom Kulunga, was silent on Thursday.
The nation's military has also remained neutral and largely silent.
Meanwhile, about 700 protesters occupied a park between Marauta Haus and Parliament House to express their support for the government of Mr O'Neill.
"We want the Grand Chief (Sir Michael) out," said Nick Kinde, an unemployed Port Moresby man.
"I am unemployed, I have several children, I want them to have an education and that is what Mr O'Neill promised us.
Speaking for the protesters, Daniel Hogga said he was angry at the Somare government.
"I want them out," he said. "Too many broken promises."
Sir Michael was in power from 2002 until parliament ousted him and installed Mr O'Neill as prime minister on August 2.
However, the PNG Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the removal of Sir Michael was illegal and Mr O'Neill's government was not legitimate.
Earlier, religious groups and the head of PNG's Trade Union Congress called on the two men at the centre of the political crisis to come together and work out a solution - including possibly forming a national coalition government.