Bishops want Chief to quit, Nape out

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The National, Wednesday 21st December 2011

THE Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC) wants Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to resign on health grounds.
It also wanted Speaker Jeffery Nape to either resign or be removed to prevent him from causing further damage to the country. 
The conference is the highest ruling body of the Catholic church – the church with the biggest following in PNG of which Sir Michael is a member.
In its first statement on the week-long political turmoil, the bishops said the Constitution determined what was wrong and right – not the superior numbers on the floor of parliament.
“Sir Michael Somare must honourably resign in the interest of the country considering his health and the speaker should also resign or be removed,” head of CBC Archbishop Francesco Panfilo of the Rabaul diocese said.
The call by the Catholic bishops came as Sir Michael remained adamant that he is the rightful prime minister as reinstated by the Supreme Court while Peter O’Neill had used his superior numbers on the floor of parliament to chop and change legislation to legitimise his hold on office.
“These are difficult moments for the country and the church is concerned about the welfare of all people, especially the little ones who are those who suffer more when conflicts and disagreements come up,” Panfilo said.
“People should be commended for the patience and restraint shown until now. We urge people to continue to be calm and to always respect the rule of law.
“We call on the political leaders to think about the people before they think about themselves and their political careers. We all need to pray for peace, humility and reconciliation.”
He said Sir Michael had been vindicated with the decision of the Supreme Court. This should be a reminder to everybody that no one could play with the Constitution, Panfilo added.
“In this particular case, it is the Constitution rather than numbers in parliament that decides what is right or wrong.
“However, what happened following the court decision has set a very dangerous prece­dent and the speaker of the house has to take responsibility for his actions. Political giants of the former opposition should also have known better.
“We need a political compromise,” he said, adding Sir Michael should resign so that a new government could be legitimately and constitutionally established.
“As part of the political compromise, the speaker should also resign or be removed … the country does not need any further damage.”
Panfilo said: “Let us pray for wisdom that the Lord may instil in our political leaders the spi­rit of service, rather than the spirit of power.”