Constitutionally Dangerous Embarrassments

The first thing you’ll notice about the above image is that it’s a ‘Government House’ gate, but behind it is not somewhere in PNG. It’s a nice looking mansion though but for many of us it would just be a dream. Now as the day dawns on Day 3 at the gates of Government House, no one from either Somare or O’Neill’s side has been able to paint us a picture of what they see for PNG should they be allowed past this gate. All we can hear at the moment from both parties is ‘me, me, me and my government this and my government that’.

So what do we the people want?  We who created the Constitution and we who elected these so called leaders to the positions they are today. Do we know what we want past those gates?

One of the popular suggestions was that the Governor General dissolve Parliament and take PNG to the next elections. However it appears from Constitutional Lawyer, Tony Regan that the Governor General, has no powers to dissolve Parliament like in other Commonwealth countries. According to Regan, our Constitution (s.86(2)) states that our “…Head of State shall act only with, and in accordance with, the advice of the National Executive Council, or of some other body or authority prescribed by a Constitutional Law or an Act of the Parliament…”

So our Governor General is stuck in the sticky situation of having to decide whether the Supreme Court ruling decides the Prime Minister or whether an amended Act of Parliament decides the Prime Minister.

Just to be clear, Somare claims to be Prime Minister because of the court ruling that the Speakers actions of dismissing him was illegal and thus he had technically always been Prime Minister, (never mind the fact that his own son Arthur had declared him unfit to continue as Prime Minister several months ago). O’Neill on the other hand claims to be Prime Minister because they had passed retrospective laws before the Somare decision which made the Speakers actions perfectly legal. In addition O’Neill has the numbers and the National Executive Council in his party. So legally it would appear that Somare does not have the same legal footing, especially since it is the Parliament that ultimately decides a government and its Prime Minister and not a Court Decision. Remember that the Court Decision for Somare was only interpreting the law, you will sooner or later need to sit in Parliament to decide the Government.

Although both sides may go on and on about protecting the Constitution, both are just as guilty as the other in using their powers to seek their own constitutional agendas. Lawyer John Nonggorr outlined O’Neill’s dangerous precedents here and Somare had his Moti issue as well, among others. So who are both Somare and O’Neill trying to kid here?

Both sides however are adamant about giving up their positions and the Governor General upon seeking legal advise is still yet to make a decision on who to let into his gates. (It is interesting though that on the last 2 days at Government House, he has allowed Somare to wait in the house while he decides while O’Neill has had to push and fight his way to get past the gates. Whether it is an indication of something it is yet to be seen). As it stands the best option could likely be that the Governor General gets them both to come to some sort of compromise as he stated yesterday afternoon.

Maybe now would be a good time to draw upon our long Melanesian traditions of killing pigs and bringing leaders together in times of war to find peaceful ways to reconcile and discuss solutions. The winner takes all attitude has never really been a part of our culture and it has ended up distorting the way we have developed our style of Westminster government, but anyway that’s another story.

So moving forward, my cousin Vergil nominated the following names for five people to be picked from the list below to mediate between the two parties. These are his names which quickly came to mind for him, but please share if you have other suggestions:

1. Chronox Manek;
2. Paulias Matane;
3. Meg Taylor;
4. John Momis;
5. John Nonggorr;
6. Judge Kandakasi;
7. Rev. Samson Lowa;
8. Archbishop John Ribat;
9. Ila Geno; and
10. Jean Kekedo.

The Terms Of Reference for the mediation process could be as follows. Again please feel free to delete, add, amend:

1. Draw up an MOU between parties;
2. MOU to cover both parties compromising;
3. Agreed process to select new PM within confines of law within agreed time frame;
4. Parliament to agree for Somare to retain his East Sepik Provincial Government seat;
5.Grievances resolution process from now until elections;
6.Set up Parliamentary Committee to review the whole process and recommend changes to the law.

At the end of the day, as elected leaders, do they really go home each afternoon asking themselves if what they are doing is the right thing for us everyday Papua New Guineans? And if they want to keep fighting at the gates then what picture are they trying to show us past those gates?

Ultimately though, with only 7 months to go to the next General Elections, what are Somare and O’Neill fighting for? There is nothing more important now than making sure we have a thorough and effective polling period next year and this is what we get? Right now, Somare and O’Neill are simply constitutionally dangerous embarrassments.

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6 thoughts on “Constitutionally Dangerous Embarrassments

  1. Your last paragraph, answer: The need to stay in Parliament to control the next elections . Power & Greed . What are they going to do if they are not in Parliament? what become and ordinary citizen, hell no !!

    1. Black Rob, your question,’what are they going to do if they they not in Parliament?’…This is my humble observation which I like to share;

      Some of us PNGeans do not or very rarely plan for down the track,we are basically more into the here and now and perharps a few weeks,month or maybe a years,not more than that.

      I have seen former big name pollies walking on their two legs around Pom looking all the ‘worse for wear’.A week or so ago I saw former pollie shake hands with Oniel and that pollie was a big name in his time in Parliament.I cant name him or the others I have seen wandering around Pom (all looking worse for wear) out of respect for them.

      But those that have put their hands to PNGs Burse in a big way have managed to continue with their contacts at Parliament or with Top bureaucrates have continue to ripe processs of evil money even now with the yellow rats of mainland China and the Malaysian.

      If you hold a degree of some sort in PNG and are PNGean my humble observation is that “these” PNGeans will be more cunning and more bent in hoading whatever they can and will at our demise.Forget the rural majority of PNGeans,they are illerate and uninformed.Deal with such people when its time for election,sweet talk with few kina here and there .

      Coming polls should be our deciding factor,we should look long and hard or should I say,we should know by now,before we vote for any PNGeans who come with loud speakers promising us stuff that never ever gets delivered.If it was me I would tell that pollie to go home and start to prepare for a life of “Bare Necessaties”,like the other pollies I discribed above.
      There is certain kind of madness that come with money and power.

  2. Suggest the GG should call both together and sit them down with some bunches of big juicy buai from his Tinputz home which is also a traditional peace offiering. He should simply instruct them to work with a mediator such as those you have nominated. A caretaker government with agreed and limited powers should be appointed to run the country until elections are organised and held.

  3. RT @liamfoxpng There are rumours that O’Neill and Co are in parliament preparing to sack the Governor-General and Somare is at Government House with the Governor-Genera

  4. From Malum Nalu
    Breaking news: Sir Michael Somare is now Prime Minister
    The Sir Michael Somare Cabinet has just been sworn in at Government House by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.

    Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is now being driven off to Morauta Haus, Waiagni, followed by his ministers.

    A press conference is expected to be held at Morauta Haus.

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