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ABAL’S TENURE AS ACTING PRIME MINISTER IN QUESTION Expert says Abal disqualified when he resigned cabinet post

By Yehiura Hriehwazi PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 6, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), acting Prime Minister Sam Abal was not gazetted as Minister for Immigration as the Government would have us believe and this has wider ramifications on his position as Acting Prime Minister.

"This is a serious indictment on the type of legal advice going to the Prime Minister," said private lawyer and former judge Mr. Nemo Yalo.

Mr. Yalo has taken issue with the fact that when Mr. Abal relinquished his Works ministry last week, he immediately ceased to be Deputy Prime Minister and therefore also lost the position of Acting Prime Minister. "If he is not a Minister, he cannot be Deputy Prime Minister and therefore cannot be Acting Prime Minister. Only the Prime Minister can appoint him Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – all over again," said Mr. Yalo. "This is a very serious issue and I am challenging the government to fix this quickly if not I will take it up with Supreme Court next week as an amendment to my other case now before it," he said.

His case that’s up in court next Tuesday questions the constitutionality of the appointment of Sir Arnold Amet as Attorney-General, appointment of Sam Abal as Acting Prime Minister and appointment of Paul Tiensten to act as Governor General to swear-in Mr. Abal as Acting PM.

In the meantime, Mr. Patrick Pruaitch, who was supposed to have been automatically suspended from office following a Supreme Court ruling last Friday, argues that he will remain Minister for Finance and Treasury because of a previous Supreme Court ruling specifically allowing him to stay in office. (See other story on Page 4).

The office of the Acting PM told the Post-Courier repeatedly that Mr. Abal had split the ministry of Foreign Affairs Trade and Immigrations and he held onto Immigrations as a separate ministry thereby fulfilling requirements of Section 3(3)(b) of the Prime Minister and National Executive Council Act 2002.

However, new information made available to this newspaper last night revealed that the government has misled and appeared to have lied to the nation and people of PNG.

Mr. Abal announced his Cabinet reshuffle last week and had them gazetted in Gazettal notice 163 on June 22. He removed himself from the ministry of Works and gave that to Peter O’Neill. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigrations was given with all its determinations and functions to Ano Pala.

Mr. Abal did not hold back any ministry, thereby disqualifying himself as Deputy Prime Minister and also as Acting Prime Minister. Section 3(3)(b) reads: "The Deputy Prime Minister ceases to hold office if he ceases to be a Minister."

Mr. Yalo said last night: "I have read the responses from the PM’s Dept re; Sam Abal retaining Immigration. I wonder when and who created Immigration a ministry on its own separate from Foreign Affairs. There is usually a cap on the number of Ministries that can be created. I will be interested to know if there is a published gazettal notice of an MP been appointed Minister for Immigration, and if it does exist, are the number of ministers appointed, within the limit.

"The Gazettal Notice No G163 dated June 22, 2011, states that Ano Pala is appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration. So what other Immigration portfolio is Mr. Abal occupying?" Mr. Yalo asked.

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