22 May 2012

New uncertainty in PNG

1:06 pm on 22 May 2012

There's a fresh outbreak of political turmoil in Papua New Guinea where the Supreme Court has again found Peter O'Neill's appointment as prime minister was illegal.

In a three to two ruling on Monday, the court upheld its decision of last December that Mr O'Neill's replacement of Sir Michael Somare as prime minister was illegal.

Chief justice Sir Salamo Injia said the order to reinstate Sir Michael still stands and is binding.

But an ABC correspondent reports that only three members of the five-man bench took part in the decision after two judges withdrew because they felt their colleagues were biased.

In it, one of the presiding judges, justice Nicholas Kirriwom, refers to the O'Neill government as an "illegal regime".

Deputy chief justice Gibbs Salika said he would not deliver a decision because it could be compromised.

Justice Bernard Sakora disqualified himself and said he would be disregarding his judicial oath if he proceeded.

Mr O'Neill said he will not respect the court's decision.

''Our government remains until parliament decides otherwise. We do not recognise the decision of the court' he said.

Mr O'Neill said the judiciary is biased and ordered police to investigate Sir Salamo Injia.

PNG's parliament was dissolved last week ahead of the general election, but will be recalled for a special sitting on Tuesday to deal with the court's decision.