PNG Judges Threatened With Arrest After Somare Court Decision

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Peter O’Neill contends Somare has ‘no mandate’ to act as PM

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 23, 2012) – Papua New Guinea's (PNG) government has threatened to arrest the judges who ordered the reinstatement of Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister.

PNG's effective Prime Minister Peter O'Neill again attempted to convene a special sitting of parliament to deal with the Supreme Court's decision, and again he didn't have the numbers because most MPs are in their electorates campaigning for the general election.

Mr. O'Neill says they'll try again Thursday.

His deputy, Belden Namah, has threatened to arrest the three judges involved "for sedition" unless they resign.

The parliament sitting was called after the Supreme Court on Monday ruled the government of Peter O'Neill illegal and ordered former prime minister Sir Michael Somare back to power.

Around 30 policemen and soldiers prevented Sir Michael and his supporters from seeing the Governor-General at Government House on Tuesday.

Sir Michael says the army and police are disobeying the law by preventing him from seeing the head of state.

"The law has declared that I am duly elected Prime Minister of the country," Sir Michael said.

He now plans to follow protocol and submit a written request to the Governor-General for a reception and to be sworn in as caretaker government.

'No mandate'

Peter O'Neill says Sir Michael has no mandate to retake the PM role.

He says the judges are biased, and have no right under the PNG constitution to order Sir Michael's reinstatement, and he's rejected the suggestion he stand aside to allow Sir Michael a caretaker role in the lead up to the June general election.

"Why should we do that when we are heading towards an election...which takes place in six weeks time, when he has absolutely no mandate on the floor of parliament," Mr O'Neill told ABC Radio National's Jonathan Green.

Mr. O'Neill earlier said the court had overstepped the separation of powers, and said he will not respect its decision.

"It has become apparent the Supreme Court has made decisions to try and create a chaotic situation in the country," he said.

"If the Supreme Court and members of the bench cared about the stability of the country, this should have been handed down after the elections and the election of a new government."

Parliament was dissolved last week ahead of the general election.

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