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Court hopes to issue ruling before election period

By Todagia Kelola

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 29, 2012) – The most anticipated question of "Who is the Legitimate Government" is now set to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 2, about 26 days away from the issue of writs for the 2012 national Elections.

This was set by the Supreme Court comprising Deputy Chief Justice, Gibbs Salika, Justices Bernard Sakora and Nicholas Kirriwom yesterday.

They also ruled that interveners cannot amend or bring in new questions to the two references.

But in a surprise move, counsels for the Somare camp and the East Sepik Provincial Executive also informed the court that they had filed two separate References and sought leave for the two to be heard concurrently with the two that were filed by the O’Neill-Namah camp and Parliament.

This brought some exchanges from the bench and the O’Neill-Namah side, who objected for the two references to be included in the hearing.

Counsel for Belden Namah, Manuel Varitmoss submitted that they were served just yesterday morning and that they were not informed including the court and that they objected to the application for the two new references to be included.

Justice Sakora described the actions as an assault and disrespect for the court. "These matters are not properly before us, as far as this court is concerned it has seized of SCR 1 and SCR 2 only so the two new references should go up to the Chief Justice’s office and join the queue."

Counsel for Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare Kerenga Kua tried in vain to reply to the other side’s comments, but he was repeatedly told to stop because the matter was not properly before the court.

Justice Sakora told Mr. Kua and Counsel for the East Sepik Provincial Executive, Rimbink Pato that the question that they wanted to include, which was Section 19(2) of the Constitution, could be made in their submission which they were willing to hear.

The question that the Somare side wants to include is if the Section 19(2) of the Constitution provides that the opinion given and the orders made by the Supreme Court on 12 December 2011, in Supreme Court Reference No.3 of 2011, "has the same binding effect as any other decision of the Supreme Court." And, "are there any available Constitutional procedures, in the absence of compliance of such decision, for the enforcement of the opinion?"

The timeline for the two references by Dr Allan Marat and Parliament are such that they be heard and determined concurrently.

The parties must confer and agree as to final questions for hearing; and a final Statement of Agreed and Disputed Facts on or before March 5, 2012.

The referrers in SCR 1 and SCR 2 of 2012 file on or before March 12, 2012, the following documents the Statement of Agreed and Disputed Facts; Copies of the legislation annexed to the Reference filed in SRC 1 and 2 of 2012; Copies of each certification of that legislation by the Speaker; Copies of the Instruments signed by the Governor-General in respect of those decisions or appointments by him which are referred to in the Statement of Agreed and Disputed Facts; Copies of those pages of Hansard which record each resolution of the Parliament referred to in the Statement of Agreed and Disputed Facts and a Copy of the Further Amended Reference in SCR 3 of 2011.

The two References are to return to the Court on March 16 at 9:30am for Status Conference and that they are fixed for hearing Monday, April 2

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