27 Oct 2011

PNG government again fails to quash Somare challenge

9:16 am on 27 October 2011

The government of Papua New Guinea has failed for a second time in as many days to interrupt a Supreme Court case into its legitimacy.

Lawyers for the Attorney-General Alan Marat and the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill had applied to adjourn hearings and compel the former prime minister Sir Michael Somare to present medical records to prove he was not of unsound mind during his five-month absence from PNG between April and September this year.

In that time, parliament voted to dump the Somare government and install Mr O'Neill at the head of a new government.

In a 3-2 decision, however, the bench ruled that the issue of Sir Michael's health would be dealt with when the case into whether Mr O'Neill's election was constitutional gets underway.

Last week, a judge appointed by the Supreme Court to determine which facts were relevant to the case ruled Sir Michael was of sound mind but not of sound body during his five-month stay in Singapore where he underwent three heart operations.

On Tuesday, Dr Marat had applied and failed to have the entire case thrown out of court, arguing the group that brought the legal challenge, the East Sepik Provincial Government, did not have a full quorum when it voted to bring the matter before the court.

The case is continuing.