Source: Pacific Business Review, by Tereni Kens
The parliament by now should look at appointing a new prime minister and it is incumbent on the acting Prime Minister, Sam Abal to take the necessary step forward
The challenge comes in light of long overdue leave of absence and why the government is kept mum about the health of the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare which is becoming a concern for many Papua New Guineans as to whether the country does have a mandated prime minister.
In breaking the silence over this issue, former attorney general and Rabual MP Dr Allan Marat revealed that the prime minster can be removed as stipulated in the constitution.
“Under the ministerial determination the prime minister is responsible for the constitution and the constitution as a law, is a document that protects the rights of almost 7 million people of Papua New Guinea. Under section 142 of the constitution subsection 5 paragraph c, there is expressed provision where the prime minister is physically or mentally incapacitated, parliament may remove him,” he said.
Dr. Marat who is one of the opposition spokesman explained that the fact that there is an acting prime minister, an office that is created by section 143, does not remove the necessity of removing a prime minister provided for in section 142 subsection 5 paragraph c because the grounds are expressed for the removal of the prime minister.
“So just because we have an acting prime minister does not mean that government has to rest on its laurels and just allow the so called leave of absence to continue. Under the standing orders, there is no provision for extension of a leave of absence. What has been granted by parliament and once it expires it comes to an end. You cannot extend, the standing orders do not allow for leave of absence.
“So it is in the best interest of almost 7 million people of Papua New Guinea that the constitutional fathers of this nation in thir wisdom saw fit to make a provision like section 142, subsection 5 paragraph c. There is express provision there, where the prime minister is in capable of managing the office of prime minister, he may be removed by parliament,” Dr. Marat emphasized.
He noted that it is incumbent now for the acting prime minister to give directions to two medical practitioners to come up with the reports on the physical and mental condition of the prime minister in the interest of Papua New Guineans.
“Have two medical practitioners appointed and make a report on the condition of the prime minister. That report then goes to the speaker of the National Parliament. The speaker then presents the report to parliament and on the basis of those two reports, parliament them makes a decision on whether to remove the prime minister and appoint a new prime minister. I think the process is simple but why are we taking a sort of laid back attitude?” he asked.
On the same note Opposition Leader Belden is urging Mr. Abal to immediately appoint two new ministers, thus asking why it is taking too long to do this.
“The acting prime minister has taken the decision to sack two ministers and this country cannot be held at ransom by one person or group of people for the sake of holding on to power for the sake of holding on to power when the people of Papua New Guinea deserve the best from its leaders.
“The fact that the acting prime minister has made a decision to sack the Petroleum and Energy minister and also the Foreign affairs minister, we demand that he completes that process by appointing two new ministers quickly,” he said.
Mr. Namah said these are two important portfolios and as such to prolong the appointments was to send the wrong message to foreign investors at large and especially the important PNG LNG project.
Also former prime minister and opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta urged Mr. Abal to make decisions where it matters and not to be pushed around or be influenced by external forces.
“It is very clear that the acting prime minster’s movements are choreographed by someone else. He’s hopelessly strung to a string. He’s only a mouth piece. He’s a puppet. we need an elected prime minister,” said Sir Mekere.