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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, April 17) - Supreme Court Associate Justice Larry Miller says Peleliu Governor Jackson Ngiraingas can continue to perform his duties pending a decision on his petition for a permanent injunction.

The Peleliu state legislature earlier voted to remove Ngiraingas from office, but the governor immediately filed a civil suit.

The Supreme Court’s Trial Division has already summoned the legislature to answer the governor’s complaints.

The court gave the legislators and Peleliu Speaker Kalbesang Soalablai 20 days to respond to the summons.

Ngiraingas has also asked the court for a declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction to preserve the status quo pending the disposition of his case.

According to Miller, "during the pendency of the civil action matter, status quo of the government of Peleliu state as of April 7, shall be maintained and plaintiff shall continue to perform the limited duties of the governor."

A hearing has been scheduled for April 25.

The order stated that Ngiraingas can only perform the following duties: receiving of account receivables, fees or charges on behalf of the state; maintaining records, paying the state’s financial obligations pursuant to law; and other daily routine operation of the state government.

The governor is prohibited from taking major steps to either obligate the state, create any liabilities against the state or enter into any contracts, or deprive the state of benefits until disposition of the matter.

Soalablai was ordered not to take any actions as acting governor until further order of the court.

If major actions should be taken by the state such as passage of a law or approval of contracts, either parties of the case should apply to the court for proper amendment of the order, Miller said.

On April 9, Soalablai informed Ngiraingas that he was no longer governor.

The legislature earlier impeached the governor and said it would remove him from office if lawmakers were not satisfied with his response to the allegations against him.

According to the speaker, "the resolution (impeaching the governor) was not rescinded or revoked. The resolution still stands and I hereby formally advise you that you are impeached and removed from office."

Citing the state constitution’s provisions, the speaker said he was now the acting governor, adding that there would be a special election to fill the vacancy in the Office of the Governor.

State legislator Donald Haruo said a session was supposed to be convened to give Ngiraingas a chance to be heard but the governor did not show up.

Ngiraingas now wants the court to declare that the resolution to oust him from office is unconstitutional and is null and void from the very beginning and that he is still the governor.

He also asked the court to restrain legislators from seeking to remove him from his office and to award him costs of suit and "other such relief as may be deemed just and equitable."

Ngiraingas said the impeachment resolution "made it appear" that he is no longer the governor.

He said the resolution made false allegations, some of which are inapplicable to the issue of impeachment.

April 18, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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