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By Colin Taimbari

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 12, 2001 – The National)--Opposition Leader Bill Skate and his right hand man Philip Taku have both been rendered powerless in an amazing and swift series of actions by the government.

The National Capital District Commission (Amendment) Act 2000, which stripped politicians of their powers, was hurriedly certified and gazetted yesterday, never mind the fact that the controversial saga is before the Supreme Court for adjudication by Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet this morning.

On Tuesday, Sir Arnold reinstated Mr. Taku as Governor of NCD after two years of suspension. Today, Sir Arnold will be told that his reinstatement of Mr. Taku has been superceded by legislative amendments the same afternoon that he ruled in favor of Mr. Taku.

Sources also said last night that it appears that Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta is not taking Mr Skate's "I'll fix you" comment lightly.

[SEE: Storm Over PNG Opposition Leader Skate's Threat To "Fix" Prime Minister Sir Mekere]

Mr. Skate is the regional MP for the National Capital District and Mr. Taku is the Moresby Northeast MP. Their power base is the National Capital District Commission -- their local government council -- which had its principal governing legislation amended by Parliament on Tuesday. The amendments stripped politicians, including Mr. Skate and Mr. Taku, from performing their elected responsibilities in the NCDC.

It is understood that the government had pressed for speedy certification of the NCDC Act by the Speaker of Parliament, which was followed immediately by its publication in the National Gazette yesterday, making it into law. This was all done in less than 48 hours, a record time of adherence to processes required for any enactment to become law.

While the case is before the courts, the National Executive Council is expected to appoint a six-member committee to manage the affairs of the National Capital District Commission today.

This follows Governor General Sir Silas Atopare's gazetting of the NCDC (Amendment) Act 2000, which now legally removes any powers vested in the four NCD politicians -- Messrs Taku and Skate, Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta (Moresby Northwest) and Lady Carol Kidu for Moresby South.

Sir Silas fixed the date of the publication of the instrument in the National Gazette yesterday, effectively bringing into operation the Act.

A copy of the National Gazette was delivered to The National late yesterday afternoon by an official of the ruling People's Democratic Movement party.

A Prime Minister's spokesman, who was asked to comment last night, said: "We can't confirm anything on behalf of the Governor General but if you have a copy of the National Gazette then that's it."

Sources close to the Government said last night that former City Administrator Bernard Kipit could be retained to head the city under the new structure, with five others to be appointed by Cabinet.

The sources said the gazetting by the Governor General means that Governor Taku and his administration should vacate City Hall by today.

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

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