PNG Supreme Court Orders Parliament To Be Recalled

Parliament agrees to sit, consider motion of no confidence on Friday

By Adam Mera

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 13, 2016) – Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc has been given five days by a three-man Supreme Court bench to recall Parliament and deal with the existing notice of a motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika and Justice Colin Makail also declared the notice of the vote valid because it has met technical requirements as stipulated by law.

The five technical requirements to be met are stipulated under section 145 of the Constitution, and Standing Orders 130(2).

The bench also ordered the acting Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa to place the notice as the first item of business when Parliament resumes on Friday afternoon.

The notice of the motion of no-confidence was lodged by Opposition Leader Don Polye to the parliamentary committee on private business on June 7 to be introduced to Parliament the next day June 8, but Parliament adjourned when a rally by University of Papua New Guinea students turned violent when police fired into the students attempting to march to Parliament, injuring about 16.

According to the Supreme Court, the Speaker’s Office did receive a copy of the notice and it was brought to the attention of acting Speaker Aide Ganasi.

The bench ruled that Mr Ganasi in his capacity as the chairman of the committee failed to convene a committee meeting for the notice to be cleared, despite it meeting all technical requirements.

It also said that Mr Ganasi failed to facilitate for the notice to be introduced in Parliament on June 8 before the adjournment.

By failing to facilitate for the no-confidence motion to be introduced, Mr Ganasi failed to inform Parliament of the pending notice of motion and in doing so, also failed to conduct a Parliament meeting for the notice to be debated, the court ruled.

It declared the actions of the Speaker as unconstitutional, breaching several provisions of the Constitution.

[PIR editor's note: On July 13, 2016 The National reported that 'The Supreme Court believes it should consider civil and criminal sanctions on those found to be responsible for the breach of constitutional duty under Section 23 of the Constitution. ... The panel said acting Speaker Aide Ganasi, as acting chairman of the parliamentary private business committee, was reminiscent of the actions of past speakers who came under criticism in earlier court cases. ... “Perhaps it is time now for persons charged with administering the business affairs of the Parliament to be held responsible,” they said.'

The court also declared that Mr Ganasi’s actions denied the right of MPs to introduce the notice and debate and vote on it.

The application to recall Parliament was filed by Opposition Leader Don Polye.

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