19 Jan 2005

PNG stand-off over attorney general goes to cabinet and possibly court

3:35 pm on 19 January 2005

Papua New Guinea's outgoing Attorney-General Francis Damem is seeking a court injunction to prevent the appointment of State Solicitor Isikel Mesulam to the post.

Mr Mesulam's nomination was endorsed by the Governor-General, Sir Paulias Matane last Tuesday.

Mr Damem says the appointment of Mr Mesulam is unlawful and according to the newspaper, The National, he has instructed his lawyers to file court proceedings at the National Court.

Mr Damem's four-year tenure expired on Jan 8th.

The Minister of Justice, Mark Maipakai has recommended to the Public Services Commission that Mr Damem continue in the attorney general role, until a permanent appointment is made by the National Executive Council.

The acting PM, Sam Akoitai has called a special NEC meeting today to resolve the matter.

Earlier this week the police raided Mr Mesulam's home in search of evidence to further their investigations into allegations about an alleged pornographic tape.

Mr Mesulam does not deny the existence of the tape but claims it was prompted by his former wife who he says he has since left.

Mr Mesulam claims that Mr Damem tried to blackmail him into resigning after learning of his appearance in the video.

Mr Damem says he was not blackmailing Mr Mesulam but asking him to step down gracefully.