PNG PARLIAMENT OPENS WITH MUCH FANFARE

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By Lydia Kaia

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 29, 2000 – The National)---Flags of the country's 20 provinces were raised at full mast and flying at the National Parliament yesterday.

A large crowd, which had gathered since as early as 8:00 a.m. at the Parliament gate, waited to witness the opening of the first Parliament session of the millennium.

First came the combined disciplinary forces, marching along Sir John Guise Drive, passing the Somare Foundation building and PSA House.

The parade was led by the Royal PNG Constabulary and the CIS bands, followed by youths Laura Wauwu and Charles Ofoi, who carried the National and the Parliament flags.

Ms. Wauwu and Mr. Ofoi also presented a statement on behalf of all the youths nationwide.

In the statement they called for justice and respect for every individual.

They also highlighted the problems youths face today such as crime, violence, poverty, unemployment, poor housing, lack of health care and insufficient educational opportunity.

Then came the provincial group representatives, led by their respective governors. There also was the choir from the combined churches in the country.

The arrival of the Governor-General, Sir Silas Atopare, was followed by a 21-gun salute later at noon.

According to the National Capital District and Central province police commander Raphael Huafolo, the police are proud that things ran smoothly throughout the day.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

 

SPEAKER: PNG PARLIAMENT MUST SIT 51 DAYS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 29, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Parliament has another 51 days of sitting before July 15 if it is to comply with requirements of the PNG Constitution on the number of sitting days allowed in a year.

Speaker Bernard Narokobi told the first sitting of Parliament for the 21st century yesterday that a recent Supreme Court decision requires that Parliament must sit for a total of 63 working days in a year.

Mr. Narokobi said since July 16 last year, Parliament had only sat for 12 days and before July 15, completion of a 12 months period, it has 110 days or 16 weeks left to make up the required sitting days.

The Government of former Prime Minister Bill Skate had decided on December 2, 1998, to adjourn Parliament for seven months and 11 days to July 13 last year.

The Ombudsman Commission filed a Supreme Court reference seeking a binding opinion of the court on whether the Constitution, which requires Parliament to sit not less than nine weeks in a 12 months period, had been breached. A seven-judge bench ruled 6-1, with Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet disagreeing, that there was indeed a serious and intentional breach by Parliament.

The Speaker said given the ruling of the high court, Parliament must ensure that it upholds the Constitution by sitting the required number of days or reasonably close during the 12 months period.

Mr. Narokobi's reminder came soon after Governor General Sir Silas Atopare read to Parliament a 24-page speech on the Morauta/Zeming Government's vision for the new millennium.

After Mr. Narokobi's reminder, leader of Government Business and Minister of State Vincent Auali moved for Parliament to be adjourned to 10:00 a.m. today. Mr. Auali made it clear that this session would sit the full three weeks, as there are important bills to be presented by the Government.

Several MPs seemed lost at the start of the new Parliament.

Sacked Petroleum and Energy Minister Tommy Tomscoll was seen walking around the chambers for a good three minutes, looking for a seat.

Mr. Tomscoll finally decided to sit next to Ialibu/Pangia MP Roy Yaki in the back row of the middle benches.

Newly declared Yangoru-Saussia MP Bernard Hagoria was escorted into the Chamber by United Party leader Gabia Gagarimabu and Vanimo-Green River MP Gallus Yambui and sworn-in by Mr. Narokobi.

The first Parliament session for the 21st century began early in the morning with a parade led by the three disciplined forces leading the procession from Sir John Guise stadium.

The occasion was well attended by MPs, senior public servants, provincial leaders and provincial representatives, dressed in their traditional customs, and the public.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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