D-Day for PM

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The National, Friday 03rd August 2012

NATIONAL Court judge Collin Makail will, at 10am today, rule on an urgent application to stop parliament from convening until all writs for the general election are returned next Wednesday.
Justice Makail reserved his ruling until today after hearing arguments late yesterday afternoon.
The application was made by NCD Governor Powes Parkop, outgoing  Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga and re-elected Bulolo MP Sam Basil.
Their lawyer, Greg Sheppard, told the court that Parkop had, “expressed his desire not to proceed”, leaving Olga and Basil as the only plaintiffs.
Peter O’Neill’s lawyer, Tiffany Twivey, supported by state lawyer Lais Kandi, asked the court to adjourn the matter because they were not in a position to respond because of the short notice they received.
However, Makail considered the urgency of the matter and allowed Sheppard to move the motion.
Sheppard told the court that parliament should be called to meet not more than seven days after the day fixed for the return of writs.
He said the provincial seats of Chimbu, Eastern Highlands and the National Capital District were still counting and they would be prejudiced in the election of the speaker and prime minister.
“The first important sitting is to elect the speaker and the prime minister,” he said.
“They (MPs) don’t have to be prime minister but they have to vote.
 “They have that right and it should not be removed from them. If we only go for the majority, that’s a tremendous abuse.”
Twivey was firm that parliament had to sit on the gazetted date as long as the majority of seats had been declared.
“There is one party complaining and not all remaining electorates complaining,” she said.
“We are not rushing and it is in line with the Constitution.
“The law allows the majority to sit in and the prime minister and speaker are elected by the majority.”
Kandi told the court the plaintiffs’ arguments should convincingly state “meaningfully and genuinely” how parties would be prejudiced if parliament convened today.
Twivey had told the court that it had to exercise its discretion according to law.
Sheppard stressed that the Constitution should not be interpreted in a way that it “prevents others from participating”.