Basil queries legality of PM’s retirement

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, June 30, 2011

THE Opposition has called on the National Executive Council to appointment two practising doctors to reveal the health status of the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.
Deputy Opposition leader Sam Basil said although the family of Sir Michael had decided that he be retired from politics because of his health condition, it was wrong, in regards to the Constitution, for the family to make such statements.
He called on Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal to convene the NEC meeting and begin the process of invoking constitutional provisions to have the required medical examination of Sir Mi­chael.
“There is no legal provision for family members to declare that a prime minister has retired,” Basil said.
“While we all respect Sir Michael for his founding role in the formation of Papua New Guinea and we want to be sensitive to the Somare family at this difficult time, we have a duty in the national interest to do what is proper, moral and legal interest,” Basil said.
He criticised the Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Sir Arnold Amet, and newly-ap­pointed Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Ano Pala, for not alerting the Somare family and Abal as acting prime mi­nister, to the sections of the Constitution which provided for the examination and certification of the prime minister’s health.
He urged Abal to convene an urgent sitting of the NEC and invoke section 142 (5)(c) of the Constitution by advising the go­vernor-general to request the PNG Medical Board to appoint two medical practitioners to examine and provide two medi­cal reports on the condition of the prime minister to be tabled in parliament.
“This is what should have happened after the prime minister was admitted to the intensive care unit in Singapore within 28 days and a report provided after three months to determine his medical fitness or otherwise to retain this post,’’ he said.
“There are no provisions in the National Constitution that re­cognises announcements made by family members in relation to a prime minister or a cabinet mi­nister’s retirement or resignation.”
Basil said that the nation would continue to remain in limbo over the vague and obscure gesture by the Somare family which had no basis in law.