Friday, October 21, 2011

‘Withdraw Supreme Court reference or face suspension’

Source: The National -Friday, October 21st 2011
By GABRIEL FITO
THE National Executive Council has urged the East Sepik provincial government to withdraw its now much-publicised Supreme Court reference.
Failing to do that could lead to the suspension of the East Sepik provincial government, according to a letter from the government addressed to Governor Peter Wararu this week.
The reference, which will be heard by a five-man Supreme Court starting on Monday, is challenging the legality of the Peter O’Neill-led government, formed on Aug 2.
In a letter, dated Oct 18, 2011, Inter-Government Relations Minister Mark Maipakai directed Wararu to appear before him at 11am yesterday to explain why he filed the Supreme Court reference when Sir Michael Somare could have challenged the decision of parliament
himself.
Maipakai said in the letter Wararu’s action amounted to a challenge on the authority of parliament, thereby, constituting a ground for suspension of the provincial government under section 187E(1) of the Constitution and section 55 of the Organic Law on provincial and local level governments.
Wararu was also asked to appear before the NEC at 10am today to explain why the ESPG decided to file the Supreme Court reference. He would also be asked to withdraw the Supreme Court reference.
In another letter dated Oct 19, 2011, which was delivered to Wararu in Wewak at 11am yesterday, O’Neill said as a responsible government, they were giving the East Sepik provincial executive council the benefit of natural justice before any drastic action could be taken.
He said the NEC believed that the issues could have been resolved amicably without resorting to court actions and, therefore, it was important that the process of consultation was done without any prejudice.
Yesterday, despite the two directives, Wararu did not meet Maipakai.
He also indicated he would not attend this morning’s meeting with the NEC because he was yet to receive instructions from the Ombudsman Commission.
Wararu said in Wewak yesterday the NEC had no powers to suspend the East Sepik provincial government because only parliament could do that.
He said the NEC should refrain from issuing threats and allow due process to take place.
Wararu said he also needed time to convene a meeting of the
provincial executive council to gauge his members’ views on the NEC’s request to withdraw the reference.
He said it was not up to him to make that decision unilaterally.
Maipakai had put Wararu on notice that if he failed to turn up at the two meetings, he would assume that Wararu did not wish to withdraw the Supreme Court reference and the NEC would take whatever necessary lawful steps to rectify the situation.
National Alliance East Sepik branch president Henry Takombe urged the government to show maturity and play the political game correctly.
He said NEC had no powers to suspend ESPG but, if worse comes to worse, they would have to call for autonomy for East Sepik.

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