Panel to consider leader’s status next week

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 10, 2011) – A leadership tribunal into alleged misconduct by Papua New Guinea’s prime minister is to continue on Monday next week when it will consider whether Sir Michael Somare should step aside.

Sir Michael’s legal team spent much of the first day of the tribunal today trying to have it shut down.

The tribunal, which was sought by the Ombudsman Commission, is considering allegations Sir Michael failed to properly file financial statements going back up to 20 years.

The prime minister has a reference to be heard in the Supreme Court on Monday questioning the Commission’s procedures, while his lawyer also claimed the action was ambiguous and not offensive under the law.

But these arguments were rejected by the three expatriate judges.

Our correspondent Jonathan Tannos reports the hearing room was packed.

"People from all walks of life. There was also a protest march to demand that the PM step down, pending the hearing, the tribunal."

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