Wednesday, December 14, 2011

O’Neill: I am still PM

Source: News, Post Courier, December 14,  2011
By PETER KORUGL
Peter O’Neill last night remains adamant that he is Prime Minister and urged the people to refrain from taking the law into the hands over the present political situation.
Mr O’Neill admitted that PNG was faced with a political crisis as a result of the Supreme Court decision but the decision was referred to Parliament which took carriage of that order.
“Parliament has accepted that order, it has dealt with that order and as a result of that parliament sat through Monday evening and decided to elect a new Prime Minister,” Mr O”Neill said.
He added that his election by Parliament came about because of earlier amendments that were made to the the Prime Minister and National Executive Council Act.
He said it is a new law for the country which was clearly designed to ensure that future situations like this does not happen again in PNG, where a Prime Minister does not take extended leave from the country.
“That was what has happened with Michael Thomas Somare when he was sick he was away from the country for well over eight months and as a result there was an Acting Prime Minister who ran the country but was not mandated properly by Parliament wunder which all Prime Ministers are elected,” Mr O’Neill said.
Mr O’Neill said the new laws states very clearly that an absence of a Prime Minister for well ocver three months will automatically create a vacancy in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Mr O’Neill said this law was retrospective effect to the 1st of January and in the case of Sir Michael, he was absent from May to 2 August.
“It is with that, that Parliament has gone about to ensure the election of the new Prime Minister under that Prime Minister and NEC Act, which is certified by the Speaker,” Mr O’Neill said.
In another development, Speaker Jeffery Nape has advised the Governor General, about the amendments to the Prime Minister and NEC Act and the appointment of Mr O’Neill said Prime Minister.
“I write to advise that on 9th December Parliament rescinded its motion for leave granted to Sir Michael Somare effectively ending his tenure of office and Member for East Sepik Regional the instrument of which you signed as Governor General. That instrument was gazetted,” Mr Nape wrote.
Mr Nape said on Monday, Parliament passed amendments to the Prime Minister and NEC Act also declaring that the position of a PM who remains overseas for over three months will be effectively become vacant.
“The amended Act also validated the election of Hon. Peter O’Neill has Prime Minister. This amended Act has retrospective effect to 1st January 2011. The amendments were certified and announced on the floor of Parliament,” Mr Nape said.
Mr Nape said the combined effect of these two actions of Parliament is that Sir Michael Somare is not a Member of Parliament and is not Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. “He is therefore not eligible for appointment to the position of Prime Minister,” Mr O’Neill said.
He said Parliament’s decision on laws superceded court decisions and Acts of Parliament were superior and took precedence over decision of the Courts.
Mr O’Neill added that the Opposition continue to boycott parliament sessions because they clearly do not have the numbers to govern the country.
He said Parliament, in its meeting tomorrow, will move to squash the appointment of the illegal government by Sir Michael.
“I am surprised that the Governor General signed the instruments for the appointment of this illegal Government, knowing very well that he signed the instruments, certifying the vacancy in the East Sepik Regional seat,” Mr O’Neill said.

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