PNG COURT DECLINES TO HEAR “CONFIDENCE” CHALLENGE

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 15) – The Papua New Guinea National Court has declined to hear a challenge to the repeated efforts of Prime Minister Michael Somare to win passage of a bill extending his immunity from a vote of “no confidence” by parliament.

The court advised Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta, who brought the challenge, that it has no authority in the matter since the case involves constitutional issues. The court suggested that Morauta take his case to the Supreme Court.

The Somare government recently tried to pass a bill by amending Section 145 of the Constitution that would extend the grace period before a no-confidence motion against the government can be tabled from 18 months to 36 months. The bill has failed twice to muster enough votes.

Sir Mekere has been a vociferous opponent of the proposed amendment.  He has agued that since the bill failed to be passed on two occasions, it cannot be tabled again.

He filed a case before the National Court to invalidate any attempts to renew the amendments, which Prime Minister Somare has said he plans to do.

Through his lawyers in his originating summons, he has challenged the extension of the grace period and sought orders to invalid or stay the Parliament’s decision if the bill is passed.  The case returned to court on Friday. 

The presiding judge Justice, Ambeng Kandakasi, however, directed that the plaintiff (Sir Mekere) approach the Supreme Court and file a reference.

Judge Kandakasi said the National Court could not deal with the case as it involved constitutional issues.

The matter was then adjourned to today when it will return again before the same court for presentation before it is finally referred to go before the High Court.

December 16, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

 

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