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PNG PM sidelined last month during investigation

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 3, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare is expected to resume duties next Monday.

Government insiders informed Post Courier last night that Sir Michael was returning to office from his home electorate because of the legal questions surrounding his decision to step aside as Prime Minister last month.

[PIR editor’s note: Sir Michael Somare stepped aside as Prime Minister to allow the Leadership Tribunal to investigate allegations of improprieties regarding his listing of financial statements and misconduct in office.]

"He is also coming back to work because of issues confronting the National Alliance Party over his decision to demote Don Polye and appoint Sam Abal as Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister. The National Alliance Highlands bloc have outstanding issues with him that he needs to deal with. There are other matters like the implementation of the 2011 supplementary budget, which raises some issues over good governance," one insider close to the National Executive Council said last night.

This newspaper was unable to confirm this with the Prime Minister’s office last night about the Grand Chief’s returning to office. In other political news, there are eight more days before the Parliament meets to elect a new Governor-General.

Parliament was ordered to reconvene before January 20 by the Supreme Court last month after it nullified the election of Sir Paulias Matane in June last year as unconstitutional.

Acting Speaker, Francis Marus has marked down the election of the Governor-General, as the number one business for Parliament and reminded all MPs that his office was neutral. It was confirmed last night that the National Executive Council last week appointed Michael Ogio as the acting Governor-General. It is not known whether Speaker Jeffery Nape is on leave or is not well to take over the position.

The Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia was acting GG because he announced the Logohu Awards recipients on Friday but he could officially be on leave because the National and Supreme Courts are in a recess.

Meanwhile former Chief Ombudsman Mr. Ila Geno is taking his anti-corruption campaign right into where it matters on the floor of Parliament House.

He announced on January 1st the first day of the new decade that he will contest the Rigo Open seat in the 2012 General Elections against incumbent Mr. Arno Pala a member of the ruling National Alliance Party of sidelined Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare. Indications are that the former Police Commissioner has a good chance of walking into Parliament. He announced his intention at the conclusion of a two-day retreat of his political party’s national retreat at the March Girls Resort at Gaire Village outside Port Moresby on Saturday. His registered party is called PNG Constitutional Democratic Party Inc. which has enlisted a cross-section of people from the community. Some notables include John Toguata a strong anti-corruption campaigner like Mr. Geno. Those gathered at the resort from regional centers included engineers, academics, accountants, lawyers, teachers and church elders, women’s representatives of the like-minded stock who were there with one conviction to fight corruption.

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