13 Dec 2011

Reports O'Neill government will continue to defy PNG Supreme Court ruling

5:26 pm on 13 December 2011

Reports from Papua New Guinea say the Peter O'Neill government is ignoring a Supreme Court ruling that has restored Sir Michael Somare to the prime ministership.

The Court ruled yesterday that the parliamentary election of Mr O'Neill on August the 2nd, after the Speaker had declared the prime ministership vacant, was unconstitutional.

Sir Michael was toppled while receiving medical treatment in Singapore

Mr O'Neill refused to step down and had parliament again elect him prime minister late on Monday, but heavily armed police prevented him from reaching government house to be sworn in.

Our correspondent, Jonathan Tannos, says the O'Neill grouping is asserting the primacy of parliament and will continue to defy the Supreme Court.

"The O'Neill Government is insisting on continuing in Parliament claiming that because of amendments to the Prime Ministers' and National Executive Council Act yesterday [Monday] plus last Friday's vote of confidence in him he remained Prime Minister, and he had the numbers and they were carrying on Parliament as normal."

Meanwhile Sir Arnold Amet, who has been reconfirmed as Justice Minister and Attorney General in Sir Michael Somare's government, says his grouping is absolutely delighted with the Supreme Court ruling.

He says the Court determined that the Speaker had no right to declare the prime ministership vacant - that only the National Court had such authority.

The effect of all that in totality is to render all of those decisions and subsequent decisions, including last Friday's attempt to legitimise a new, declared vacancy and then a purported decision yesterday evening, after learning of the Supreme Court ruling, to appoint Peter O'Neill again as Prime Minister, as absolutely contemptuous.

Papua New Guinea's Attorney-General and Justice Minister Sir Arnold Amet.

A spokesperson for PNG police says there have been no major incidents since the ruling was announced.

A strong police presence has been maintained in Port Moresby since late last week as the country's politicians grapple with the constitutional crisis but Superintendent Dominic Kakas says it's generally calm.

It's business as usual. Most people have expressed that it is really up to the Supreme Court and then parliament to decide on the outcome of this case.

Superintendent Dominic Kakas of the PNG police