Friday, August 3, 2012

Candidates challenge formation of Government

PAPUA New Guinea's fiery former deputy prime minister is reportedly considering legal action to restrain parliament from convening on Friday, when it is expected to elect Peter O'Neill prime minister.

Belden Namah told Radio New Zealand on Thursday the sitting of about 106 out of 111 MPs is unconstitutional because because there are still some seats to be declared, while the writs have been extended for three seats until next Wednesday.

The report said he was launching legal action.

Mr O'Neill, whose People's National Congress won the largest bloc with 27 seats, was formally invited to form government by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio on Wednesday.

"I don't know why Mr O'Neill is rushing when he is boasting he's got the majority of MPs," Mr Namah said.

"He should not be feeling so insecure. He should be secure and he should adhere to the constitution of our country.
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"The way things have been rushed, it's denying the population whose electorates have not yet been declared their right to elect the Speaker and the prime minister."

The court's daily diary shows the only application to stop parliament from convening is from incumbent National Capital District governor Powes Parkop, however Mr Parkop denies he has launched any action.

Mr Namah could not be reached for comment and tends not to invite international media to his press conferences.

Since Mr O'Neill announced he had the numbers to form government last week his ranks have swelled to as many as 80 MPs - many of them current and former giants of PNG's political history.

His coalition includes former rival Sir Michael Somare as well as former prime ministers Paias Wingti and Sir Julius Chan and their respective parties.

Mr Parkop says he agrees in principle that recalling parliament before all the seats have been declared prevents certain members from putting their hat in the ring for parliamentary positions.

"I agree in theory, though I am not part of any legal action," he told AAP.

"Certain members will be barred from running for positions such as Speaker... by the fact they will not be there."

Mr Parkop is among those MPs who are waiting to be declared in their seat.

Institute of National Affairs director Paul Barker says there is precedent for parliament to sit when there are still seats to be declared.

"In 2002 they declared the whole Southern highlands as a failed election and parliament met regardless and put in a Somare government at the time, meaning the Southern Highlands bloc couldn't participate.

"I don't think there's anything in the constitution saying you can't, but in the spirit of the constitution they should wait for everyone to be there.

Mr Namah, who reportedly has a bloc of 12 MPs, fell out with Mr O'Neill during the June campaign when he said his former boss should be ashamed for allowing the delay-marred election to go ahead.

Mr O'Neill earlier this week decommissioned Mr Namah, who responded by taking out a full page newspaper ad imploring MPs to form government with him and declaring he was open to discussing the position of prime minister.



AAP