PNG PM And Police Commissioner Have Refused To Step Down Regarding Paul Paraka Lawyers Saga

Opposition Leader: people have now lost confidence in the institutions of State and the Police Commissioner

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 14, 2017) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Police Commissioner Gari Baki have refused to step down amid mounting pressure in light of the Paul Paraka Lawyers saga.

Mr O’Neill is refusing to make further comments while the matter was before the courts while Mr Baki said he would not delegate his duties. The Alliance leaders – National Alliance Party leader Patrick Pruaitch, PNG Party leader Belden Namah, National Party leader Kerenga Kua and former prime minister and Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta – made the call in a joint media conference last Friday.

Mr O’Neill and Mr Baki issued single-sentence statements at the weekend saying they would not step aside or step down.

The Supreme Court last Thursday ordered a stay of a police warrant to arrest Mr O’Neill. Prior to the order Mr Baki had said he would examine the case before inviting Mr O’Neill to police headquarters for an interview.

The Alliance’s Patrick Pruaitch said the prolonged delay in the arrest of the Prime Minister meant two things – it strengthened the growing perception that two sets of laws existed, one for leaders and the other set for small ordinary Papua New Guineans.

Mr Pruaitch, who is the Opposition Leader, said the continuous legal twists and turns were demeaning the Office of the Prime Minister, an office which belonged to the Independent State and people of Papua New Guinea.

“I call on the Commissioner of Police to uphold the law and police must defend the Constitution,” he said. “Gari Baki had a conflict of interest in the whole saga and must step aside now and his two deputy Commissioners of Police to take charge and to uphold the rule of law.

Mr Pruaitch said the people have now lost confidence in the institutions of State and the Police Commissioner has lost his professional and personal integrity by failing to uphold the law in executing an arrest warrant.

“The right thing for the Prime Minister to do now is to voluntarily surrender himself to the police for questioning and subsequent arrest,” he said.

Vanimo-Green MP and PNG Party leader Mr Belden Namah said he was the principal complainant in the Paul Paraka Lawyers saga and the Israeli generators purchase and if he was PM, he would step aside to allow due process.

To Mr Baki, he said: “I ask you to resign as you have already compromised your position.”

Sir Mekere Morauta and Kerenga Kua also called for the end of the long legal process which would only stop when the Prime Minister goes in for questioning by police.

Kua said five years was too long with the continuous delay and frustrating of the process.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia had ruled in the Supreme Court that the lower court’s decision and the execution of the warrant be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

PNG Post-Courier
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