25 May 2012

PNG parliament blockade to be lifted

5:33 pm on 25 May 2012

Reports from Papua New Guinea's capital say that a group of about 20 police who blocked the entry to parliament since early this morning has ended its blockade.

The group said it would not allow access for any MPs trying to attend today's special sitting of parliament called by the Peter O'Neill group which claims to be the caretaker government.

However, a larger group of police understood to be taking orders from the O'Neill administration arrived and briefly set up a staging area around the corner from parliament.

The caretaker prime minister Peter O'Neill says the special sitting of parliament scheduled for today must proceed.

Mr O'Neill says parliament cannot be prevented from sitting by a group of rogue police or any individuals.

He says the main reason for calling the sitting is to address Monday's Supreme Court ruling which upheld the court decision last December that hisgovernment is illegal.

"Authority of government, that needs to be re-established before we go to the polls. It's only neccessary for government to take neccessary actions to maintain the integrity of our public service machinery and government structures."

Meanwhile Peter O'Neill has described as 'unfortunate' the standoff at the Supreme Court yesterday in which his deputy Belden Namah directed police to arrest the Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia for sedition.

Mr O'Neill says Mr Namah happened to be present at the premises because he was ordered to appear at that time before the Chief Justice.

Sir Salamo later agreed to be taken in for questioning by police and has attended court this morning when his case was adjourned until July.

Transparency International in Papua New Guinea fears the country's constitution could be abrogated.

Spokesperson Lawrence Stephens says throughout PNG society there is a disrespect for the rules.

He says there are rules to be followed but the people making those demands are not good at following those laws themselves.

And that's what we are seeing. The end result can be, simply saying well we haven't been taking any notice of this wretched thing [the Constitution] anyway so get rid of it and draw up another one and usually that means it is going to be in favour of one or the other group. It is not going to be something that was so carefully thought through [as] back in 1974/75.