O’Namah tries horse trading with the judiciary

Government denies rumours of Namah sacking


The Papua New Guinea government has denied rumours of a split within its ranks and that deputy prime minister Belden Namah, seen by many as the architect of the catastrophic parliamentary vote to try to delay the election, had been sacked by Mr O'Neill.

A sombre Mr Namah sat next to a smiling Mr O'Neill at the Guise Stadium in Port Moresby as a protest rally, variously estimated at 4-10.000 people, called upon the government to hold the national elections when they were due and to act with integrity towards the judiciary.

Prime minister Peter O’Neill (after some toing and froing) and electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen, who has remained staunch through some very difficult days, say the nation's election will take place as scheduled in late June.

Thousands of protesters marched on Sir John Guise Stadium in the heart of the city's government district on Tuesday, demanding the government stop interfering in the electoral process and that it roll back laws giving parliament the power to suspend judges.

"(Cabinet), the parliament, does not have the power to direct the electoral commissioner," Prime Minister Peter O'Neill told the crowd.

"Parliament will not interfere with the electoral commissioner."

With 51% of that nation's eligible voters in the highlands, issuing the writs when the rolls aren't ready would be unfair, Mr O'Neill said.

"How do you expect them to vote, what about their rights," he said.

Electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen, addressing the crowd in Tok Pisin, said the election will go ahead as scheduled in late June, but writs will be issued three weeks late to allow for greater public scrutiny of the rolls.

Mr O'Neill also made a conditional promise to repeal the controversial Judicial Conduct Act, a law the government passed, then used to suspend the nation's chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, and Justice Nicholas Kirriwom.

He said parliament would repeal the law provided Sir Salamo and Justice Kirriwom stepped down voluntarily.

"If they do the right thing, I will do the right thing," he said.

The peaceful, but at times rowdy, protest was made up of a highly sceptical crowd.

Student representative president Emmanuel Issacs told the crowd they would wait to see what parliament did next before deciding on further civil action.

Meanwhile, a scheduled parliamentary sitting was cancelled when an insufficient number of MPs turned up this afternoon.

Parliament is expected to resume tomorrow at 10am.


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Peter Aimos

Hi Barbara. There's another one of your 'old boys' from Brandi, Andrew Trawen, stamping his authority as the Electoral Commissioner in these very trying times.

I know we both wish him well and may God grant him the wisdom, courage and guidance to deliver the national general rlections as scheduled come June.

Estate of Icarus

A good leader should have the courage and conviction to do the right thing regardless of what others may or may not do.
It's your call PM. It always has been.

David Kitchnoge

Barbara - I join you in congratulating Trawen for having the courage to stand up to those hot heads in the haus tambaran.

With the three week extension he got, he must now ensure the common rolls are ready for the issue of writs on May 18 and deliver us a free and fair elections on time.

I can't wait to cast my vote and set the scene to correct all this mess by the power of my pen.

Ross Wilkinson

Interesting that the government is pointing the finger at those MPs who are supporting Somare and aren't attending sittings but can't get enough of their own to a scheduled sitting of the House.

Colin Huggins

Good God, Barbara! You have elevated Mr Namah to a knighthood!

I am sure he would have arranged that fast enough all by himself - ha ha!

There wasn't too much coverage on PNG events on the news here last night - the ABC had a very short piece, blink and you would have missed it.

Antics in Sri Lanka, Syria and high-jinks by a dysfunctional fading TV star in Miami appeared to be of greater importance.

Mrs Barbara Short

Well I never, it's "Yes, Sir Humphrey!" Good on you Andrew, stand up for your rights.

Parliament must not interfere with the electoral commissioner. Long may Sir Belden remain sombre!


This is an interesting one Keith. There are indeed cracks showing from the O'Namah camp.

I talked with a senior minister in the O'Namah government a few days ago and there are some serious issues which factions are not agreeing on.

Let's watch and see...

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