By CHRISTOPHER YOWAT
MEMBERS of Parliament facing election petitions against them have been warned to be in court during their cases because it is a legal requirement.
Justice Minister and Attorney-General Davis Steven, who was at the National Court in Port Moresby yesterday for an election petition case filed against him, said MPs must respect the law and attend the court cases.
“The new election petition rules require all petitioners and respondents to attend court in person,” Steven said.
“It is quite pleasing to see ministers attending court and subjecting themselves to the proceedings. But one or two have made it a habit not to turn up.
“I am urging them to respect the process of the court and turn up because no one is above the law.”
The petitions, filed against Steven by Professor Misty Baloiloi and Glenn Tobewa, were among the 77 on the official list of petitions filed after the general election.
Some petitions however had been withdrawn or discontinued, such as for the Sumkar and Finschhafen seats. One case was dismissed.
Steven said the petitions had created some hindrances to his responsibilities (to the Esa’ala electorate in Milne Bay and to Cabinet). But he understands that the process of election petitions are important.
“Election petitions are an important part of our law,” he said.
“Petitions do create hindrances because we work here at the national level. We also support the Government at the provincial level and down at the district level as the chairman of the district development authority.
“So petition is a necessary interruption that we cannot avoid. We must go through it despite it being a hindrance to our responsibility.”
Steven said the Government had been working with the judiciary to ensure new election laws were formulated to address the issues faced in the 2017 general election.
“Our people have been disturbed by the (poor) level of efficiency and competency in the conduct of the 2017 general election, especially issues with the common roll and the resourcing of the process during elections,” he said.
By CHRISTOPHER YOWAT