Wednesday, December 14, 2011

O’Neill vote lawful: Lawyer

Source: News, Post Courier, December 14, 2011
By TODAGIA KELOLA
A prominent lawyer dealing with constitutional issues, Moses Murray, has given his views that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s election on the evening of Monday, December 12, 2011 was lawful as it is in accordance with section 142 (3) of the Constitution.
Mr Murray said the Parliament had exercised its legislative powers properly and lawfully when it elected Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister after the Supreme Court bench of five judges found that there was no vacancy in the seat of the Prime Minister before August 2, 2011 and restored Sir Michael to his post as Prime Minister.
The finding of the Supreme Court relates to the question before it pursuant to Section 19 of Constitution and accordingly restored Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister.
Mr Murray said: “I hold the view that the Speaker of Parliament acted properly within the ambit and exercise of his powers pursuant to section 108 (1) of the Constitution in the discharge of his duties.
“Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, the Parliament adjourned the debate on budget and introduced a motion to elect the Prime Minister. This they did and it is my legal view what transpired on the floor of Parliament was lawful under the circumstances.”
He also raised a question saying, “When can a Prime Minister be elected? Section 142 (3) of Constitution provides for such a situation within which a PM can be elected.
“The section reads ‘If the Parliament is in session when a Prime Minister is to be appointed, the question of appointment shall be the first matter for consideration, after any formal business and any nomination of a Governor- General or appointment of a Speaker on the next sitting day.’’
He also applauded the public for being orderly in such a situation of legal uncertainty as it could have been “bloody”.
“People of Papua New Guinea from all works of life must be congratulated as we have shown the world that true democracy does exist in PNG,’’ he said.
He also congragulated the leaders for the way they approached the constitutional issues before the Supreme Court and Parliament.

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