PNG Prime Minister Referred To Leadership Tribunal

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O’Neill won’t resign as involvement in UBS loan investigated

By Malum Nalu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 17, 2014) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has no intention of stepping aside or resigning after the public prosecutor referred him to a leadership tribunal.

He made that clear to reporters in Port Moresby on Saturday after being informed in a letter on Friday by Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin of the referral.

Kaluwin, as part of the process of such referral, has formally asked Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia to set up a leadership tribunal to look into O’Neill’s involvement in the K3 billion UBS loan last year to buy 10.1% shareholding in Oil Search Ltd.

"Why should I step aside or resign? You don’t step aside if you’re referred. It’s for the tribunal to make that decision. It’s not for me to make," he said.

[PIR editor’s note: The PNG Post-Courier reported that while speaking about the referral ‘Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says countries all over the world are focusing on growing their economy while Papua New Guinea is focused on destroying leaders.’]

O’Neill said a precedent was set by his predecessor, Sir Michael Somare, when he refused to resign after being referred to a leadership tribunal.

"I think the precedent is there when the former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was referred," he said.

O’Neill said: "When we go before the tribunal, the tribunal will make those decisions.

"Of course, I’m elected by the people, I’m elected on the floor of Parliament. The only way I can be removed is through those two means – by the people and by Parliament.

"Of course I will continue to run the affairs of the country. This (referral) in no way implicates my personal gain on these matters. I have been able to maintain the highest degree of transparency on all these (loan) transactions."

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