THE "WHAT IF" ON THE OUTCOME OF THE SUPREME COURT REFERENCE...AND THE SURPRISE CASE..

An opinion piece by WILSON PUNIM

All 110 MPs will be lying if they said that the impending Supreme Court decision on the election of James Marape as Prime Minister, has no bearing in politics as it is playing out right at this very moment.
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All of them, on both sides of the house, including the middle bench, have the "WHAT IF" question playing at the back of their minds and is dictating how they hold themselves out among their piers. The reason is simple - the stakes will be high, given the fact that the outcome of this Supreme Court decision will determine who will be Prime Minister going into the elections in 2022.
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If the Supreme Court finds no illegality in process applied to elect the Prime Minister then it is a certainty that James Marape will rule as PM into the 2022 national election. Any further moves thereafter will lack support, given the proximity of the national elections. Those currently in government will not heed any such moves or calls and sacrifice their comfort zones with elections approaching.
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On the other hand, if the decision is made in favour of the Opposition in that the election of the Prime Minister on the floor of Parliament is nullified, then the Supreme Court may order the Speaker of the House to convene Parliament to elect a new Prime Minister.
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This is the "WHAT IF" scenario that is dictating the conduct of all members of Parliament right now. (There is a surprise third case scenario and that will be discussed further below.)
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Both sides of the House are confident of a favourable decision and are projecting it that way, although the Prime Minister has shown no apprehension of concern publicly by going ahead with the business of running a country.
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No one in the Opposition will deny that moves are being made, raids are being planned and calculations are being made in anticipation of a decision in their favour. They are entitled to do that since that is what Oppositions do, given such possibilities.
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There is O'Neill and Namah on the one side and there are three or four currently on the government side apart from Prime Minister Marape, who will all be possible contenders.
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O'Neill has said he will make sure that Namah becomes PM, but I would think that what was said while under the weather may hold true for another time. In this case, O'Neill knows that governments are always broken and formed from within. His demise is a case on point. So the logical choice would be one currently on the government side. Who that is, is anybody's guess.
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With Marape referring to Namah as a proxy, one can only assume that this is a consensus on the government side, especially when the Opposition has raised issues that are only trivial and not weightier matters such a policy. Namah's chances these time around remain bleak.
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Now to our third case scenario.
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If the Supreme Court finds that the withdrawal of Peter O'Neill as a nominee alone is improper, then Court is within its powers to order that Parliament be resumed to elect one of the three nominees as Prime Minister. Then, it is Marape, O'Neill and Mekere and we go back to the instant immediately prior to O'Neill's withdrawal of his nomination.
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Who then would be elected Prime Minister? It could be O'Neill or it could be Marape again. It could even be Sir Mekere in a three way run. The fact that he is said to retire at the end of this Parliament and nearing his statutory the time limitation could weigh heavily in his favour.
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Who knows, all political party leaders with plans (and egos) to try for the top job themselves after the 2022 national elections may find Mekere an ideal choice considering their own interest. It could be "larim em holim tasol lo liklik time na bai mipla kam bek lo 2022 na resis lo vacant seat." Fair and square with every one on a level playing field.

It would therefore be advisable for Sir Mekere Morauta to intervene in the Supreme Court Reference now and join as a party because such a decision by the Supreme Court is a possibility that would directly affect him.
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In fact, Sir Mekere would do himself a favour in getting his lawyers to argue for such an outcome as described above. He cannot expect the government and the opposition's lawyers to do it for him. The days of someone doing it for you are long gone.
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If the Court decides in the government's favour, and Marape remains as Prime Minister, he will be around for quite sometime and it would be advisable for any MP to stick with the Hela man.

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