Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let peace prevail in this turmoil

Source: yutok, Post Courier, December 14, 2011
Papua New Guinea is in a state of confusion following the surprising sequence of events in the last five days in the National Parliament and the Supreme Court.
It is not our intention to discuss the ruling from the Supreme Court of this country. We respect the Judiciary and we still do after Monday’s decision on the East Sepik Provincial Government constitutional reference, however, we are at a total loss to understand the separation of powers of the three arms of the Government - the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.
Reading from the Supreme Court ruling, we are firmly of the opinion that the judiciary might have over stepped its fiduciary and core responsibilities and has interfered with the functions of the legislature.
We were of the view that the Supreme Court was asked to deliberate on the constitutionality of two very fundamental but crucial issues, that is; whether there is a vacancy in the post of PM on the floor of Parliament and whether the move to oust Sir Michael from Parliament, also on the floor of Parliament, was legal.
We are among the many who are of the view that the Supreme Court was asked to interprete the law in direct reference to the court challenge before it and then recommend to Parliament a course of action because all other preceding decisions leading to this challenge were made on the floor of Parliament.
As a result of the Supreme Court decision and the consequent re-election of Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister by Parliament soon after, there is a political impasse. For two days, Peter O’Neill has been knocking at the gate of Government House to be sworn in but Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio is not allowing him in.
It is not surprising that Sir Michael Ogio is finding himself in this position. He is in a real spot now. This is because last Friday, acting on advice from the Speaker Jeffery Nape, Sir Michael signed the instruments that declared the East Sepik Provincial Seat vacant. How does he get out of the jam he has put himself in? He is getting advice.
Already rumours of civil unrest are spreading through the nation’s capital and this may erupt anytime. In the Eastern Highlands capital of Goroka, supporters of Peter O’Neill have taken to the streets shouting “we want O’Neill and not Somare”.
There is also talk in Chimbu that any day from now, pro O’Neill supporters may go on the march. What happens, is anyone’s guess.
Also bobbing its ugly head in all this political quagmire is the fact that the Royal PNG Constabulary, which has the constitutional duty to protect lives and property, is divided in its loyalty. Policemen and women, who swore under oath to protect the Constitution, uphold the rule of law and protect lives and property, are divided – one group supporting Sir Michael Somare and the other Peter O’Neill.
Just how will they regroup and deal with such an emergency is anybody’s guess. We do not want to think about what is going to happen when the confusing, frustration and anger spills onto the streets.
Meanwhile, we appeal for calm among all citizens and to stand back and allow the current political situation to be settled peacefully.

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