26 May 2004

PNG in constitutional crisis

4:11 pm on 26 May 2004

The resignation of the acting Governor General, Bill Skate, has caused a constitutional crisis.

Mr Skate, who as Speaker, has filled the Governor's chair since the retirement of Sir Silas Atopare in October last year, resigned yesterday in protest over the dumping of his party from the Government coalition.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Peter Niesi, says normally the Chief Justice would assume the role, but Sir Mari Kapi's office says this would be unconstitutional given that Mr Skate remains Speaker.

"Sir Mari Kapi's argument is that given that the Speaker is still here and he is the person under Section 95 supposed to be holding that position, the only time that the Chief Justice steps in is when the Speaker has a leave of absence or is no longer able to perform the role"