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Somare files contempt proceedings against PM O’NeillSir Michael Somare’s faction has filed contempt proceedings in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Cabinet members, among others.
Also named as respondents are Speaker Jeffery Nape, his deputy Francis Marus and deputy PM Belden Namah.
They have been accused of failing to implement Supreme Court orders issued last Dec 12 to restore Sir Michael as PM.
The application named 35 respondents including chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc and lawyer Tiffany Twivey. The application would be served to the lawyers of the respective respondents by this week.
In response, O’Neill, in a statement, said his government would mount a vigorous defence in court.
“The actions of Sir Michael and his members of parliament were those of a desperate group trying to cling onto power,” he said.
“We will vigorously defend this contempt application and have it disposed of in due course.
“These are acts of desperate people who have failed to turn up in parliament to deal with the issue but choose to remain outside of parliament to wrestle government by creating instability in the institutions of state.”
In a media conference yesterday, Sir Michael and suspended Angoram MP Arthur Somare said their group remained the legitimate government.
Sir Michael said the warrants would be issued to each and every one of the respondents and he expected the matter to be heard by the Supreme Court this week.
“We will be asking the court to ask them to show cause why they should not be detained until the final matter is heard,” he said.
O’Neill, with a majority support from parliament, became prime minister last August when Sir Michael was undergoing medical treatment in Singapore.
However, the East Sepik provincial government went to the Supreme Court which ruled on Dec 12 that Sir Michael was not lawfully removed; that the speaker’s decision of Sept 6 to declare Sir Michael had lost his seat was unconstitutional and ordered that Sir Michael be restored to office as prime minister.
Sir Michael said preventing the implementation of the Supreme Court’s findings “is blatant defiance of the Supreme Court decision, hence is in contempt”.
“These contempt proceedings seek to uphold the integrity of the Supreme Court and respect by the executive and legislature for the judiciary in maintaining the rule of law by upholding our Constitution.”
O’Neill said the issues facing the nation today were not about personalities but about maintaining democracy.
“The national parliament is where every government since Independence has been elected, and defeated.
“Under our system of government, the government changes when parliament changes the prime minister.”
O’Neill said parliament has moved on since the decision of the Supreme Court in making appropriate legislative changes and decisions, one of which was to reaffirm his election as prime minister.
“What we are witnessing now is a desperate attempt by the Somare family to trample on proper and legal processes to get into government.”
The Somare group should now concentrate on the general election which is only two months away to seek the mandate of the people to govern the country, he added.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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