The People Speak Up on Day 4

Day 4 and the people have finally had enough so two major civil events happened yesterday. The Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC)/Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) held a press conference and civil rights activist Noel Anjo had his petition rally. It is clearly evident now amongst the general population that people don’t really care who wins, it is more about Somare and O’Neill finding a solution and fast.

[audio http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/ra/podcast/english/20111214_png_politics_talkback.mp3]

With only 7 months to go till the next General Elections in 2012, the most pressing issue of all is the National Budget which needs to be passed. The 3 arms of Government can still operate for a while through the supply bill provision under the Constitution, however large expenses like the elections will not be able to be funded without the Budget being passed.

CCAC/TIPNG’s two key messages were that firstly they were proud of the calm and restraint by the armed forces and also the general public itself as well and secondly the Church Leaders under CCAC put forward their offer to mediate between both parties. They believe it is inappropriate that both Somare and O’Neill are employing a ‘winner takes all’ attitude. They emphasised also that the principles of Christianity and the Melanesian Way should be adhered to in this impasse. Other statements made by the Church Leaders were that the situation had now moved beyond Somare and O’Neill and their political interests. It was now about the people and the longer it dragged out the more tensions could be building.

Later in the day, O’Neill was asked the question in a press conference if he would be interested in mediation, however he responded that he did not have to waste his time if Somare was not a Member of Parliament. This again clearly highlights how entrenched both men are in their positions. In many respects both are right legally, however we seem to have reached a point now where the law can no longer point a clear path for a solution. As one of the Church Leaders put it, ‘6 million people are now waiting on the decision of 2 men’, so essentially a political and human ego solution will most likely be required.

O'Neill receives the petition from Noel Anjo (far right)

The other civil rights movement was the rally organised by Noel Anjo who had wanted to present a petition to both the Somare and O’Neill camps. His petition demands were:

  1. That Hon. Peter O’Neill and Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and all the members of Parliament physically meet within 24 hours on the floor of Parliament, and;
  2. Both sides must go back to the Parliament and exercise Parliamentary Democracy to resolve the Prime Ministership Issue, and;
  3. Pass the 2012 National Budget
Failing the above steps, further demands would be that:
  1. The NEC must advise the Governor General to dissolve the Parliament as stated in s.86(2) of the Constitution, and if that fails;
  2. The Parliament must use s105(1) to dissolve Parliament and go into fresh elections immediately

Anjo stated that failure to do so would result in the 6 million people of PNG taking matters into their own hands and the people forming their own Equal and Fair Interm Government including both parties to take the country forward into the National Elections.

However what was interesting about this rally was that although both parties were invited to it, only O’Neill and his team turned up to the rally to receive the petition. The effect that has was that it was then agreed by both O’Neill and Anjo that since the Somare team had not turned up, this meant that Somare was not a real Prime Minister and so Anjo wholly accepted that O’Neill was the Prime Minister in his eyes in accepting his petition.

So it would seem more and more that O’Neill may have an upper hand legally and maybe after yesterday more so publicly. It hasn’t been helped by the fact that Somare has not turned up to Parliament at all since  yesterday’s debacle of being sworn in by now suspended Governor General Michael Ogio, while O’Neill was being sworn in by now Acting Governor General Jeffery Nape.

Somare has set up camp at Morauta House and O’Neill is about 400 metres up the road at Parliament House but their political positions are worlds apart and it seems each day they are becoming more entrenched in their positions. However there was a break through of sorts yesterday with Radio Australia getting both Dr. Allan Marat from O’Neill’s team and Sir Arnold Amet from Somare’s team to talk on air together. We’re certainly thankful to ABC for this initiative and we ended up hearing both Marat and Amet agreeing that they had a high regard and respect for each other and that they would be willing to get their respective sides to sit down and talk in order to find a solution for this. Another MP Anderson Aigiru also offered to be a bridge between the two.

[audio http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/ra/podcast/english/20111215_png_attorneys_general.mp3]

So some hopeful signs of talks ensuing, but it would take some sacrifice from each of them which they may not be ready to give up yet. Regardless my cousin Vergil had the following suggestions to try to appeal to both sides and the Constitution:

1. Allow Somare in as MP and PM;
2. Call Parliament to meet;
3. Repeal amendments to PM and NEC Act;
4. Somare go into Parliament and call for a vote of confidence in him;
5. If Somare loses vote of confidence, he resigns as PM;
6. There is therefore a vacancy;
7. Parliament adjourned to the next sitting day;
8. Parliament conduct election for a new PM on floor of Parliament. Most likely to be O’Neill.

The people have shown what they want in their various forms and we are willing to show the way for these leaders if they can’t see it for themselves.

We are at a stage now where the longer they both drag this out, the more unpredictable and disastrous outcomes maybe.  And as we’ve been saying all week, lets see what today will bring….

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9 thoughts on “The People Speak Up on Day 4

  1. Thanks Manu – praying for greater results today.
    What Virgil has suggested and appealing for speaks generally for what the people would like to happen – let’s hope for the best.

  2. Excellent article, thank you – for those of us not on the ground, it’s incredibly helpful to have bloggers & Twitter users to keep us up to date.

    A small typo: “Dr. Allan Marat from O’Neill’s team and Sir Arnold Amet from Somare’s team […] we ended up hearing both Marat and O’Neill”

    I’m assuming that you meant “Marat and “Amet” there.

  3. From my perspective what we are seeing here is a revolution. Every revolution necessarily involves an act of law breaking, like the American War of Independence, the French revolution, The English War of the Roses, more recently in Timor Leste, etc. There is nothing wrong with a revolt against those who would use the Law as a tool of oppression.

    Everyone was initially confused, I think, when the CJ, in questionable circumstance, seemed to make an order as to who was the PM. In effect, the CJ was taking the role of every citizen of PNG and deciding for them as to who should be the PM. This was very wrong.

    Only the people can determine who they want as their leader. Not the Court.

    The CJ’s Orders were unconstitutional and in breach of the peoples fundamental democratic rights. Of course, under the separation of powers doctrine the Courts are forbidden from making such orders, So a couple of days passed whilst every one scratched their head and tried to shake the confusion. It was confusion because there was and remains a majority of the house, all individually democratically elected, supporting O’Neil. In hindsight it’s difficult to see where all of this came from but then it becomes obvious. Somare has a history of abusing judicial process.

    His recent Court application to tilt O’Neil is but one example. Here’s one recent example of Somare’s abuse of legal process in the words of Deputy Chief Justice Salika, along with Justices Kirriwom and Kandakasi said about the “Grand Chief” Somare and his desire to observe the rule of law on 1 July 2011 in Somare v Manek [2011] PGSC 17; SC1118 (1 July 2011) @ paragraph 71. In the present case, the Ombudsman arrived at a decision to refer Sir Michael to the PP after having come to a decision that there was a prima facie case of Sir Michael being guilty of misconduct in office.

    “……………rather than taking the most noble and respectable approach of stepping aside or resigning, Sir Michael took a number of steps which were inappropriate and amounting to an abuse of the process of the court and against the spirit of good leadership and leadership duties and responsibilities as set out in the leadership code under the constitution and the OLDAR and an abuse of the due process and the rule of law………” @ paragraph 79. ……………….”we are of the view that, Sir Michael through his lawyers abused the process of not only this court but also the process of the national court. ………….the various steps Sir Michael took through his legal counsel or advisors were nothing short of an attempt at preventing a process ordained by law taking its proper course. ….”
    ……………………..

  4. Somare is the legit Prime Minister as interpreted by the highest court in the land.Oneill can’t amend laws whilst the very root cause is under interpretation by the courts.
    If we don’t follow the court rulings then we should release all prisoners as the elected leaders don’t follow them.
    I am ashamed of Powes Parkop as I thought he had more sense in upholding the constituion than folling O’Neill.

    Thanks,Kevau

    1. Paddy, IN this case the Court may make a declaration.
      It can not make an Order.
      The Supreme Court is not the highest determinative body in te Nation.
      Under Common Law all power ultimately vests with the citizens of PNG.
      To permit otherwise is to divest the Nation of its constitutional authority and become an empty shell of laws with not root in legal authority.
      Its the most fundamental check and balance …………..it is the very source of the legal power of the Constitution.

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