Dispute Over Governor Position In Hela Province, PNG Hits Court

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Agiru, ousted in no confidence vote, says political instability likely

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 6, 2016) – The tussle over the Hela Governor position between incumbent Anderson Agiru and Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape has gone to court with Agiru seeking to maintain his role as governor.

Mr Agiru was ousted as Governor by the Hela provincial assembly in a vote of no-confidence last month and replaced with Mr Potape.

Mr Agiru went to the Waigani National Court yesterday and before Justice Derek Hartshorn sought permission to be allowed to remain as governor on the grounds that there could be instability at all levels of administration in the province if he was replaced.

He submitted through his lawyer Goiye Gileng that political instability was imminent and public funds could also be at stake.

Mr Potape’s lawyer Philip Ame argued that there was no urgency to ask the court for the order since Mr Agiru had no evidence to support his instability claims.

He said the Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs Department has recognised Mr Potape as Governor. Further, there was no evidence that Mr Potape had taken control over Hela funds.

Mr Ame also told the court that he only represented Mr Potape and not the other eight defendants, who were the provincial assembly members.

He mentioned that the notice of motion by Mr Agiru was only served on him yesterday morning.

After hearing the submissions, Justice Hartshorn advised Mr Ame to seek advice from the eight other defendants and serve them necessary documents to allow representation for them as well in the proceeding.

The judge adjourned the matter to today for further hearing.

After court, Agiru’s lawyer told media that the reason to get to court was to secure the interests of Hela people.

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