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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 1) - The appointment of Sir Pato Kakaraya as Governor-General of Papua New Guinea was declared null and void yesterday by the Supreme Court in Port Moresby.

This means the vice regal post becomes vacant until Parliament is called back to hold fresh elections.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare last night immediately announced Parliament will be recalled to deal with the issue of the nomination and election of a new governor-general.

Sir Michael said: "We have maintained this stance from the beginning. We respect the independence of the judiciary and have waited for the due process of law to take its course.

"I am pleased that this whole issue of the validity of the election of the governor-general has finally been resolved so that we can move forward to carry out our duties as elected members of Parliament.’’

Sir Michael said he hoped Parliament does not repeat its mistakes on procedures which he said had created much confusion "that could have been avoided if proper parliamentary procedures on the election for the governor-general were followed’’.

A special Cabinet meeting is to be called tomorrow to be advised of the Supreme Court’s decision and its implication.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court chaired by Chief Justice Sir Mari Kapi and assisted by Deputy Chief Justice Salamo Injia and Justices Timothy Hinchliffe, Gibbs Salika and Bernard Sakora ordered the National Parliament to conduct fresh elections for the post of Governor-General.

This is the second time the election of the Governor-General has been successfully contested in court. 

Yesterday’s decision was based on two central issues that rose during the nomination process in the election of Sir Pato.

The court heard the initial nomination period for proposal forms were supposed to be submitted to Clerk of Parliament Ano Pala from November 25 to 28 last year. However, the period was extended to December 1.

The court heard Sir Pato submitted a completed form to the Clerk on November 28.

Governor of Madang James Yali nominated Sir Pato to contest the governor-general’s position.

Later that day, Sir Pato delivered the same proposal form with the date November 28, 2003, inserted.

Sir Mari said the November 28 date was inconsistent with the dates that were put on the proposal form by 15 of the 17 members supporting the nomination, which were dated between November 25 and 27. Only two supporters signed the proposal form on November 28.

The court also found that the election had been conducted contrary to the Organic Law because Acting Speaker of Parliament Jeffrey Nape exercised his casting vote on the third ballot. He should have cast the vote on the second ballot.

Sir Mari said the exhaustive secret ballot meant that only the members of Parliament who were present in the chamber participated until a decision was made.

"The acting Speaker wrongly cast his vote on the third ballot and not on the second ballot. Therefore, the entire voting process was in breach of prescribed procedure," he said.

Sir Mari said Mr Nape was not supposed to allow two other members of Parliament, Ben Semri and Sasa Zibe into the chamber while voting was in progress.

"The process of voting must be comprehensive (or continued) until the subject is exhausted in this case until all the candidates are eliminated and a person is nominated.

"The Organic Law makes provisions for members to be present at the time a ballot is conducted. But it does not make provision for those who may participate in subsequent ballot," he said.

Sir Mari ordered that the National Executive Council advise the Queen and Head of State, that her appointment of Sir Pato as the Governor-General was null and void and there was a vacancy for the position.

April 1, 2004

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