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Victory! Democracy upheld by Supreme Court


THERE HAVE BEEN two major victories in the last few days in the campaign to defend Papua New Guinea's Constitution and uphold democratic principles.

First, the Supreme Court ruled the appointment of the governor general was unconstitutional and invalid, and second, the Prime Minister, Michael Somare, has been forced to step down to face a Leadership Tribunal for alleged misconduct in office.

These are major victories against a Prime Minister and a government who have tried to place themselves above the law and have abused Parliamentary processes and democratic principles to suit there own agenda and try to avoid any scrutiny.

Governor General

The Supreme Court has ruled the controversial reappointment of the governor-general, in June this year, was unconstitutional and invalid.

The court found there were numerous breaches of parliamentary process and no ballot.

The Supreme Court judges were particularly scathing of the role played by Speaker Jeffery Nape, who has also been criticized for repeatedly failing to allow the Opposition a vote of no-confidence against the government and adjourning Parliament for long periods.

As a result of the court decision, the governor-general ceased to hold office at midday yesterday and there must be a new election for the post held before the end of January.

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister has been trying to avoid a Leadership Tribunal for two years over his failure to make annual declarations of his financial assets and explain who funded some of his overseas trips. (He has also not explained how he has paid for all his costly appeals and applications!)

Two weeks ago the courts struck out one of his appeals against the Ombudsman Commission's referral, opening the door for the Public Prosecutor to ask the Chief Justice to establish a Leadership Tribunal to hear the charges.

Yesterday Somare's lawyers were stilling running around the court houses trying to find someone and someway of avoiding due process, but no judges were prepared to consider any more applications or delays.

As a result the PM has been forced to step down (as was his Finance Minister and Treasurer, Patrick Pruaitch earlier this year).

It is somewhat ironic that the Prime Minister has in recent days been citing his involvement in the drafting of our Constitution as evidence of his good name - it is a shame that he has not been so diligent in ensuring its enforcement!

There are, of course, many actions and decisions that still need to be addressed, such as the Environment Act amendments, Forestry Act amendments and Finance Department Commission of Inquiry findings,.

But it is very significant that both the Prime Minister and governor-general have been removed within a few days of each other and we should pause to celebrate the fact our laws are being upheld by the courts and remind ourselves that as long as lawyers and the courts uphold our Constitution then no-one is above the law.

Effrey Dademo is the program manager of ‘Act Now! for a better PNG’


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Effrey Dademo

Program Manager not the Executive Director, thanks Keith ;)))

When you go for promotion, I'll vote for you! - KJ

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